Although not strictly a contact lens as it ‘floats’ on the eye’s lens it is made of a collagen based material similar to a soft contact lens and is biocompatible, meaning the body will not reject it or cause any side effects. The ICL is designed to remain permanently in place and is anchored at its edges to the patients existing natural lens.
Why Use Implantable Contact Lenses?
Those with high myopia (short sight) or high hyperopia (long sight) may not be suitable for the more widely used Laser options which reshape the cornea. ICL or complete lens replacement surgery then become the most widely used options to correct visual impairment.
A significant advantage that ICL has over Laser eye surgery is that it is reversible or the ICL can be replaced with an ICL of different power. This is an important consideration as most people suffer from a deterioration in vision over a period of time as they age. Laser surgery is also governed by the shape of the eyeball. This is not a problem with implantable lenses.
What Is The Surgical Procedure for ICLs?
- Operations are carried out under general or local anaesthetics in an operating theater.
- The ICL is contained in a plastic injector then inserted through a small surgical incision in the cornea where it is aligned and anchored in front of your existing lens.
- The complete procedure is usually completed within thirty minutes.
- You can opt for having both eyes treated at the same time or allow an interval of two or three weeks between each procedure.
- After a short rest period to allow the effects of the anaesthetic to wear off you should be ready to be driven home. You should not drive yourself.
Is it Painful and What Are the After Effects?
In most cases there is no more than slight discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off, you may experience a slight ‘pricking’ sensation for a day or two and you will be given anti inflammatory eye drops to settle any inflammation that may occur.
It takes a little time for the brain to adapt to the new 20/20 vision that you will experience and in some cases bright lights may cause some discomfort but should only last a few days.
Wear sun glasses if necessary. Avoid heavy exercising and lifting for a week at least and most importantly you should not rub or put any pressure on your eyes until healing has completed usually about three weeks after the operation. You should find your vision will stabilise within a few days as the cornea heals.
What Are The Complications, If Any?
All invasive surgical procedures carry the risk of complications although in ICL surgery this is rare. Infections, glaucoma and the formation of cataracts are potential sight threatening complication but occurrences are rare and can be effectively treated.
It is important to have a regular eye check yearly after any eye surgery as the most common problem is the onset of glaucoma. Sufferers from glaucoma are unaware of any discomfort, which is why it is by far the most common condition leading to loss of eyesight but it is easily controllable with painless laser surgery and regular eye drops if caught in time.
Occasionally the results of the procedure are not quite as expected with some degree of short or long sight remaining. This can be corrected by laser treatment normally after around ten weeks later when the effects of the ICL surgery have settled down.
Is ICL Right For You?
After a complete examination by your eye specialist you should discuss all the options open to you for remedying your visual impairment. Laser or Lazik treatment has been around for years giving excellent results with very few problems reported, it is also much less expensive than the ICL procedure.
However if you are considered unsuitable for laser treatment then ICL is a viable option. The first ICL procedures were launched in 1996, at that time any long term consequences were not known, with the passage of time and the improvements in technique and materials it seems safe to say that no long term will be experienced.
That so many sufferers from severe visual impairment can now have the option of experiencing perfect, or near perfect, eyesight without the likelihood of any detrimental after effects is a major advance.
If you have been considered unsuitable for laser do not be put off by the cost With an ever increasing number of eye specialists offering the Implantable Contact Lens procedure many practitioners are now offering deferred payment plans.