Implantable lenses

An implantable lens is just that: it is a type of contact lens which is surgically placed over the surface of the eye to correct faulty vision such as short or long sightedness.

It is also known as an ‘intraocular lens’.

Implantable lenses are designed to replace the natural lens of your eye which has become cloudy or damaged which has affected its ability to focus on an object. They are very similar to a standard contact lens but for one difference:

They are designed to be worn on a permanent basis.

Why choose an implantable lens

There are two reasons for choosing implantable lenses instead of standard contact lenses: either as a replacement for a natural lens which is cloudy due to a cataract or as an addition to your existing lens to correct a refractive error.

How is the lens kept in place? This is another difference from standard lenses which are held in place by the natural tears within the eye.

Implantable lenses are fixed inside the soft material of the eye with tiny plastic fittings which help to keep them in place. They are considered a viable alternative to laser eye surgery.

Three types of intra-ocular lenses

There are three types of implantable lenses which are:

  • Phakic intraocular lenses (STAAR ICL’s)
  • Phakic intraocular lenses (ARTISAN lenses)
  • Pseudophakic IOLs (often known as ‘Refractive Lens Exchange’)

Phakic intraocular lenses (STAAR ICL’s)

These types of implantable lens are partially made from collagen: a naturally occurring protein in the body which is found in the skin and the cornea. It acts as a support for these and other connective tissues.

This lens is implanted into the eye via a tiny incision at the edge of the cornea. It is moved into place behind the iris and in front of the natural lens of the eye.

Phakic intraocular lenses (ARTISAN lenses)

This lens is designed to be worn as an addition to your natural lens. It is inserted behind the cornea and in front of the iris which differs from the STAAR lens which is positioned behind the iris.

The ARTISAN lens is the most popularly worn implantable lens. It is used to correct refractive errors such as myopia (short sight) and hypermetropia (long sight): plus there is a toric version to correct cases of astigmatism.

Pseudophakic IOL’s (Refractive Lens Exchange)

This is a procedure in which the natural lens of your eye is replaced by an implantable lens of the same power and focus. This is a similar procedure to that used to treat cataracts.

There are two types of lenses which can be implanted:

  • Monofocal (single, fixed vision)
  • Multifocal (close to and distance vision)

There is also an ‘aspherical intraocular’ lens which is used to treat astigmatism. These three types of lenses are implanted using a local anaesthetic. The procedure takes around 30 minutes or less: recovery takes around 2 to 3 weeks.

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