Implantable Collamer Lens | Implantable Contact Lens in the Capital Region
For people who wear contact lenses having to remove them and switch to glasses is often the most disturbing aspect of using contacts, but often results in relief. The maintenance of contact lenses and the irritation some people experience can be downright inconvenient!
Many LASIK centers focus their training, investments, and advertising on LASIK and don’t offer LASIK alternatives. Although LASIK is one of the most successful elective procedures in history, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. As every person is unique, so are our eyes, and some patients may not be candidates for LASIK.
For this select group, OCCR offers the Visian ICL. Also known as an implantable contact lens or Collamer lens, this is a soft, biocompatible lens placed in the eye in a simple, 15-minute procedure.
How do ICLs work?
ICLs correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, and can be a good choice for patients with thin corneas, high astigmatism, or with prescriptions too strong for a LASIK procedure (typically, “thicker glasses” are present with very strong prescriptions).
An ICL, often referred to as a “permanent contact lens” is placed in front of the eye’s natural lens and hidden behind the iris (the colored part of the eye). The patient’s natural lens remains intact and no corneal tissue is removed, and the ICL corrects imperfections causing vision problems and delivers incredibly crisp and sharp vision – and without glasses or contact lenses!
There are many benefits to an ICL procedure. Because no corneal tissue is removed, the shape of the cornea is not modified, no lasers are used and each lens is inserted into a pre-existing space behind the iris and in front of the lens via a tiny self-sealing incision in the cornea. These benefits often translate to none of the halos and glare sometimes associated with other procedures. Additionally, since the technology is “additive,” with no tissue taken away, it is unlikely the patient will ever experience dry eye as a result of the procedure. Visian ICLs contain a UV blocker that protects eyes from harmful UV rays. And, the procedure is fully reversible at any time and takes just a few minutes to do so. Following the surgery, vision is significantly improved immediately. Upon awakening the next morning, patients are amazed by their sharp, clear vision. In fact, this technology is designed to help patients see better than their preoperative vision and even better than the use of contact lens over their natural vision! Although this is never promised in any way, historically, it has been reported in some cases that ICLs have been able to achieve better than 20/20 vision for some patients.
Will my vision ever change or worsen as I age?
For those patients who come in with a high prescription, it is a given that overtime their vision will change after any refractive procedure as a normal consequence of aging. To understand what we mean by this, consider the case of an ideal LASIK patient who comes in with a prescription of -2.00 diopter in both eyes.
Following their LASIK procedure, they may not need glasses, as in this example, their prescription is set to 0.00. As the years pass, they may have a natural age-related regression from 0.00 back to say, -0.50. In the majority of cases, since this is a very slight change, patients will not notice this change and will continue to be happy with their vision. In a minority of cases, pilots, soldiers, hunters, surgeons, and other individuals in very visually demanding fields will pick up on their vision change and be bothered enough to come in for a slight touch-up procedure. Subsequent to this, they typically will again enjoy phenomenal visual results.
For a patient with a higher prescription from the outset, say -12.00, the same proportional regression or change would place that patient a few years after their LASIK at -3.00 prescription. This represents a significant reduction in uncorrected distance vision, so seeing at a distance would be compromised. At the same time, because their primary LASIK was already likely at the upper limit of how much of the corneal tissue can be removed, they now have no corneal tissue left over for a secondary touch up. This leaves the patient and surgeon in a difficult position in terms of the inability to achieve a further correction via refractive surgery.
With an ICL, the patients’ corneal thickness is preserved. So years later, should they develop a -3.00 diopter regression, they retain options. These include refractive lens exchange (RLE), ICL exchange to correct for what would now be a -15.00 of refractive error instead of -12.00 (since the -3.00 has to be added in), or PRK on the cornea to correct for -3.00 diopters, along with leaving their ICL in place to continue correcting the original -12.00 (again, getting to the -15.00 total change). A -3.00 diopter touch-up procedure is in refractive terms, easy as pie.
As such, for certain patients, ICL is an option not only preferable but actually superior to LASIK. It offers complete reversibility and preserves the architecture and optics of the cornea rather than significantly altering them and gives patients and surgeons flexibility to address natural age-related changes to the eye over the course of time.
Understanding the refractive options available and the optics of the cornea is important. Like all surgical cosmetic treatments, a little bit of LASIK can be fine. A lot may be unwise. At OCCR following a comprehensive ocular analysis and refractive eye exam, our surgeons are able to offer personalized and customized plans to help patients obtain visual freedom. Fortunately, at OCCR we are able to offer a wide array of options such as ICL and RLE for patients who don’t fit the LASIK mold and for whom it may not be the safest or most ideal procedure, considering not only where the patient is today but taking into account tomorrow as well.
The only practice in the Capital Region to offer ICL
Is ICL Safe?
Visian ICL technology is less commonly known than LASIK but has been shown to be safe and effective for decades. ICL has been used outside the United States since 1993 and more than 1,000,000 procedures have been done for patients in 63 countries. This number continues to grow rapidly and is now performed globally once every six minutes.
About the ICL Procedure
This procedure will take about 15 minutes, however, you should plan to be at our treatment facility for 2 to 3 hours. Come with a friend or family member who can drive you home, since your vision will be blurry immediately following ICL implantation. You don’t need to wear special clothing or change clothes on procedure day and in the operating room, we will simply ask you to lie down on a comfortable bed as anesthetic drops are applied to numb your eye. A gentle eyelid holder will help hold your lids open during the procedure, which lasts only a few minutes. An anesthesiologist is always on hand to ensure your comfort and safety throughout.
For insertion, a small slit measuring 3mm is made in the side of the cornea. A collamer lens designed for you is rolled up like a scroll and inserted through this slit. This external incision heals quickly, and vision is typically clear within a few hours of surgery. In the following days, vision is usually sharpened further with healing.
What to Expect After ICL
Following ICL placement, we will provide you with instructions, eye shields to wear for the first week so you don’t accidentally rub your eyes while you sleep, and some standard post-op eye drops to help keep your eyes lubricated and healing well.
Visian ICL patients typically experience little if any discomfort during or after the procedure. Most return to work the next day. A follow-up exam is scheduled 1 day, 1 week, and 1 month after your procedure to ensure your new vision is progressing well.
Visian ICLs are positioned behind the iris (colored part of the eye) and are not visible to others, nor will you be able to feel them. Unless you share it with others (and we hope you do), only your surgeon will be aware that vision correction has taken place.
By the morning after your procedure, you’ll experience crisp, clear vision. Not only will you not be able to feel the lens but you won’t even be able to see it, as the lens is placed behind the iris (the colored part of the eye).
The benefits of wearing contact lenses without the hassle.
- No dry-eye syndrome: Visian ICLs work in harmony with the natural chemistry of your eye. Because ICLs do not involve reshaping or removing parts of your cornea, the chance for dry eye is significantly reduced compared to LASIK.
- Removable option: Because the corrective lens is added to your eye without altering the eye in any way, the lens can be removed and replaced if needed by your ophthalmologist if your prescription changes or if other health changes arise.
- Quick recovery: The ICL technology is designed to significantly improve vision immediately after surgery, and upon awakening the next morning, patients are usually amazed by their sharp, clear vision. Because the Visian ICL procedure only involves making a small, self-healing slit in the cornea, the recovery is even faster and simpler than LASIK.
- UV protection: The lens’ collamer material offers the added bonus of providing protection from harmful UV rays while letting natural visible light pass through unaltered.
- For patients with strong prescriptions: Visian ICL provides patients and surgeons with the ability to maintain superior vision through a number of refractive corrective options should clear vision naturally regress as the patient ages.