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What Are Implantable Contact Lenses?

Blog, Eye Surgery, Implantable Contact Lenses  | 

What-are-Implantable-Contact-LensesWanting to see clearly is more than just a convenience. If you are one of the nearly 8 million Americans with visual difficulties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, wearing glasses or contact lenses is an absolute necessity that is sometimes not enough. Implantable contact lenses (ICL) are one answer that may eliminate the need for glasses.

Visian ICL vs LASIK Eye Surgery

While not everyone has heard of Visian ICL for vision correction, many people have heard of LASIK eye surgery. These two procedures are both used to correct mild to moderate vision problems, but they are very different approaches to vision correction.

The LASIK eye procedure changes the shape of the cornea to adjust myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). This allows the cornea to focus light better on the retina, resulting in clearer images.

By comparison, Visian ICL is inserting a contact lens implant into the eye to correct mild to severe myopia. Implantable contact lenses are replaceable should your vision results change, and they do not affect the shape or function of the cornea. The lenses are not felt by the wearer, and cannot be seen by others.

Who is a Candidate for Visian ICL?

If you want surgical vision correction, you must be in good general health and be able to go through the short surgery and a mild recovery period. Visian ICL is not designed to correct age-related vision problems such as presbyopia, so ideal candidates for the procedure are adults under age 45. However, if you initially thought about having LASIK eye surgery and were not listed as a good candidate you may still be able to have the Visian ICL procedure.

Reasons for not being thought an appropriate candidate for LASIK include the:

  • Severity of your myopia
  • Presence of chronic dry eye symptoms
  • Shape or thickness of your cornea

During a consultation at Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center, your eye doctor will help you determine if the Visian ICL correction is appropriate for your needs.

What are Implantable Contact Lenses?

If you can imagine a contact lens on the outside of your eye, you have a good sense for the way contact lens implants work. The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that they are much like contact lenses, in that they focus light onto your retina in a way that makes the images you see much sharper.

These implantable lenses are called phakic intra-ocular lenses, meaning lenses for people who still have their natural eye lenses. Your doctor will make a prescription for the lenses that should correct your myopia. At this time, Visian ICL can only address myopia, however, STAAR Surgical Company has established studies in Europe that may eventually lead to the release of toric ICL lenses in the United States; these correct for astigmatism as well as myopia.

How is Visian ICL Done?

During your ICL procedure, the implantable contact lens will be inserted between the iris and natural lens of your eye. When it is time to implant the lenses, the surgeon places a gel into the eye to protect against any damage during the surgery. The surgeon makes very small incisions in the cornea to allow the placement of a tiny cartridge that holds the ICL. After the lens unfolds completely, the surgeon tucks the corners of the lens behind the iris, so that the lens becomes completely invisible. The surgeon then makes one small incision in the iris (the colored part of the eye) to allow fluid to circulate around the lens. The process for each eye takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

What if My Lens Prescription Changes?

There are two notable benefits to Visian ICL, 1) that they are effective and 2) that they can be replaced as vision prescriptions change. Should you need to change your lenses or add reading glasses to manage your developing age-related vision changes, contact lens implants will offer you that flexibility. When the time comes if Visian ICL sounds good to you, the surgeon can give you more information about what to do to ensure the best result from implantable contact lenses.

How Much Does Visian ICL Cost?

Like LASIK eye surgery, Visian ICL is usually not covered by your insurance. However, this does not mean that the surgery is out of your reach. When you look at it as a long-term investment in your health and ability to see properly, it is easier to consider the expense.

Fortunately, Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center offers a variety of financing options for patients. You can use your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds to pay for your procedure or ask one of our patient counselors about financing directly through the clinic.

If you were disappointed to learn that you could not have LASIK eye surgery, Visian ICL may be an option to correct your myopia. The procedure done at Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center may be your ticket to better sight.

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