What you need to know about Implantable Contact Lenses?
The current go-to refractive surgery for those who have refractive errors like short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism and presbyopia is laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK). LASIK surgery remains the most common and popular type of refractive surgery performed worldwide today. Other types of refractive surgery include Epi-LASIK, PRK and implantable contact lens (ICL) surgery. In this article, we are going to discuss about ICL surgery.
Akin to LASIK surgery, ICL surgery has been around for over 20 years. The ICL is made from a polymer with collagen, which makes it biocompatible with the human eye and is usually considered when one is found unsuitable for LASIK surgery due to the following reasons:
- High levels of eye prescription
- Thin corneas
- Irregularly shaped cornea
At high levels of refractive errors, ICL surgery is able to provide a better quality of vision post-surgery compared to LASIK surgery. In addition, it can correct a wide range of refractive errors:
- Up to 2,000 degrees of short-sightedness
- Up to 1,000 degrees of long-sightedness
- Up to 600 degrees of astigmatism
Unlike LASIK surgery which uses laser to permanently remove corneal tissue to reshape the cornea, the ICL surgery involves the implantation of a contact lens into the eye – between the iris and the natural lens through a small incision on the cornea. The ICL helps to redirect the light entering the eye to fall on the retina to reduce or eliminate the use of glasses.
Prior to ICL surgery, you would need to come in for the 3-hour ICL evaluation where our clinical optometrist will conduct a series of eye tests to determine the suitability of your eyes for surgery. Thereafter, your ICL surgeon will thoroughly go through all test results, discuss your surgical options and explain the benefits and possible risks during the consultation. If you decide to proceed with ICL surgery, we will proceed to order the ICLs based on the eye tests done and arrange a date for surgery.
In the hands of an experienced ICL surgeon, the surgery experience will be a relatively painless one with minimal discomfort. On surgery day, numbing eyedrops and local anaesthesia would be administered to the eye to numb the eye area. Next, a small incision on the cornea is created to insert the ICL into the eye. The entire procedure takes less than 20 minutes for 2 eyes with no stitches required.
As with all surgeries, there are also possible risks associated with ICL surgery though rare. The 2 most common are:
- Early cataract formation: People who are highly myopic have a higher chance of developing cataracts earlier and this risk increases with an ICL in the eye.
- Glaucoma: Rarely, the eye pressure may rise after an ICL is inserted in the eye. In such cases, eyedrops can be prescribed to bring down the eye pressure. In the rare event that the eye pressure does not come down, the worst case scenario is to remove the ICL as there is an increased risk of developing glaucoma due to a raised eye pressure.
Advantages and benefits of ICL surgery:
Reversible procedure: The ICL can be removed or replaced if needed.
Does not thin out the cornea nor change the shape and structure of cornea: Especially ideal for those with high level of eye prescription and thinner corneas.
Minimal level of dry eye and seeing haloes and starburst at night.
Recovery is fast with most people recovering about 75% of the vision the very day.
The fees for ICL surgery vary depending on the surgeon’s experience and seniority and where the surgery is performed. In Singapore, the fees can range from $9,000 to $16,000 for 2 eyes and usually include the cost of the lens, anaesthesia fee, surgeon fee and medication.