Phakic Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)

Phakic IOLs are designed for people with high degrees of refractive errors that cannot be safely corrected with corneal-based refractive surgery. The phakic IOL, sometimes referred to as an implantable contact lens, or ICL, is surgically implanted inside the eye in front of the eye's natural lens. The eye's natural lens is not removed, so patients can retain their pre-existing ability to focus.

During the phakic IOL procedure, your Eye M.D. places the phakic IOL either in front of or behind the iris of the eye. Once the IOL is properly positioned inside the eye, it provides the necessary correction to redirect light rays precisely onto the retina.

It is important to note that intraocular refractive surgery is an option for the treatment of refractive errors in healthy eyes. Conditions such as macular degeneration or glaucoma may preclude this vision correction option. Refractive errors are defined below.

  • Myopia  - Nearsightedness; parallel light rays focus in front of the retina, making distant objects blurry.
  • Hyperopia  - Farsightedness; parallel light rays focus behind the retina, making near objects blurry.
  • Astigmatism  - Steeper meridians in a cornea or lens that bend light more strongly, preventing a single point of focus.
  • Presbyopia  - Age-related decrease in focusing power of eye's natural lens, often making near objects blurry.

The Surgery

Phakic Intraocular Lens surgery involves placement of an artificial lens inside the eye without disturbing the eye's natural lens. The procedure is performed one eye at a time and may be done sequentially on the same day. Sutures may be used or not, depends on the type of procedure (Verisyse or Visian ICL). There is routinely minimal discomfort. Eye drops are prescribed and typically used for about one month after surgery.

Refractive Lens Exchange surgery is simply cataract surgery with intraocular lens placement prior to the formation of a cataract. This option corrects the refractive error as well as eliminates the formation of cataract in the future. Sutures are not routinely required, and discomfort is usually minimal. Eye drops are prescribed and typically used for about one month after surgery.

Surgical follow up

Intraocular refractive surgery does require follow up with a qualified doctor. One possible follow up schedule could be: the day after surgery, one week after surgery, and one month after surgery. Annual checks are advisable after most intraocular surgery.