The sense of sight is one of the greatest gifts of nature. Not being able to see the beautiful world around you is truly a burden. The first treatment to improve vision is glasses; if the vision problem is severe then - thick glasses. Wearing thick glasses is a blessing and a curse. Most people feel that thick glasses make their face look unsightly. On the other hand, if a person with severe near-sightedness loses or misplaces the glasses, his/ her day is a mess.
When people start finding specs to be boring and troublesome, they start using contact lenses. With contact lenses, you need not depend on specs anymore. But one must be really disciplined while using contact lenses. Improper use can lead to many problems like eye irritation and eye infection. If you are not comfortable with contact lenses too, its time you think about having implantable contact lenses.
Implantable contact lenses (ICL) are the best solution for people with vision problems such as severe myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness) and astigmatism (cylindrical power). As the name suggests, implantable lenses are lenses that are implanted in front of the natural lenses of the eye. ICL is usually considered when LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis), LASEK (Laser epithelial keratomileusis) or PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) are not good options for correcting the refractive error. The lens used in ICL is customised according to the shape and size of the patient’s eye.
ICL is suitable for individuals who:
1. Are above 18 years of age
2. Have severe myopia, hyperopia, and/or astigmatism
3. Are not pregnant or breastfeeding
4. Do not have dry eye syndrome.
However, your eligibility for this procedure would be determined by certain eye tests.
PREPARATION BEFORE PROCEDURE
If you are using contact lenses, you would be asked to discontinue using contact lenses a few days (as suggested by your doctor) before the procedure. You need to undergo the following eye tests before the procedure:
● Visual acuity testing to determine accurate power.
● Corneal topography to check the curvature, diameter and anterior chamber depth of the cornea.
● Examination of the retina.
After the tests, you may need to wait for some days for the procedure (for preparing your customized lenses). Before the procedure, you would be recommended some tests to check if you are healthy enough to undergo this procedure.
There are two types of implantable lenses:
● The Verisyse Phakic Intraocular Lens (IOL) which is made of plastic and is implanted in front of the iris.
● The Visian Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) which is made of collamer, a naturally occurring material in the body. This lens is implanted behind the iris and in front of the lens.
ICL implantation is a quick and painless procedure which lasts for only 10-15 minutes. First, you will receive topical anaesthetic eye drops to numb the eye. Next, the area around the eye is cleaned and covered with a sterile drape. Then, a speculum is placed between the eyelids to keep your eye open through the procedure.
A small incision is made on the cornea. Then, a gel-like substance is injected in front of the iris. Following this, the lens is carefully placed behind the iris, and later the gel is removed. The incision need not be sutured back as it heals on its own.
Recovery from the procedure is quick, and improvement in vision can be observed almost immediately. An hour after surgery, your doctor would check your vision and eye pressure. If everything seems normal, you would be sent back home on the same day. You would be given eye drops to prevent infection and to help to heal.
Most patients can return to routine life within a week. You would be asked to come for a follow up after a month to check if the lens is stable.
● Take medications as prescribed
● Do not rub the eyes for the first 5 days after surgery
● Prevent exposing eyes to the sun and dust for a week
● Avoid straining eyes - watching computer or mobile screen for a long time
● If your eyes are very painful, let your doctor know.
FACTORS AFFECTING COST
The costs involved in ICL implantation depends on:
● The treatment method
● The technology used
● Expertise of the doctor
Toric ICL is a type of collamer based ICL which is recommended when a patient has near-sightedness with astigmatism.
ICL implantation is not painful. Before the procedure, you would be given an anaesthetic drop, and you won’t feel anything in your eyes during the procedure.
The lens is implanted in such a way that it does not interact with any of the surrounding eye structures and so, you won’t feel a thing in your eyes.
As the lens is placed behind the iris, neither you nor others can see the lenses.
In such a situation, your doctor can remove the lens and redo the procedure. However, even with the ICL, you can choose to use specs or contact lenses to correct vision.