Are Phakic IOLs and Implantable Collamer Lenses the Same?

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Do you want to achieve freedom from glasses and contact lenses? While LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures are the most well-known, other procedures can also correct your vision.

Some of these surgeries are slightly more invasive than LASIK, but they are often a good alternative for those who aren’t good LASIK candidates.

These vision correction procedures may use an artificial lens to replace the natural lens of the eye. They may also permanently implant a lens in your eye behind the cornea while leaving the natural lens of the eye untouched.

The latter option uses an Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) or Phakic IOL. These are two different terms that refer to the same thing. Here’s how they work:

What are IOLs?

An IOL is an intraocular lens. Intraocular lenses are artificial lenses used to replace the natural lens of the eye, usually during cataract surgery or refractive lens exchange.

The natural lens where the cataract formed gets taken out to remove a cataract. The IOL takes the natural lens’ place and is a replacement, providing clear vision.

Many people who have cataracts also have presbyopia, an age-related condition that makes it harder to focus up close. Many IOLs correct both cataracts and presbyopia.

You can get an IOL without having cataracts, though. One vision correction procedure is Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE).

Refractive Lens Exchange is almost identical to having cataract surgery. The only difference is that you don’t need to have cataracts to undergo it.

Instead, the natural lens is still removed and replaced, even if you don’t have cataracts. This procedure is suitable for people suffering primarily from presbyopia but has yet to deal with cataracts.

Because of the removal of the natural lens, the eye loses its natural ability to focus up close.  This procedure generally is not performed for patients under 40, as their eyes can still focus up close.

What is a Phakic IOL?

Phakic IOLs are inserted into the eye between your natural lens and iris. Unlike an intraocular lens, phakic IOLs do not replace the natural lens in your eye.

Instead, they act more as a contact lens would. Contact lenses and the lenses of your glasses help correct the way your eye refracts light.

Refractive errors occur because of irregularly shaped corneas. The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye. Laser correction surgery changes the shape of the cornea to correct refractive errors. These include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Because laser correction surgery actually removes corneal tissue, there are limits to the amount of refractive error that these procedures can treat.

A Phakic IOL acts similarly to a contact lens, simply changing how light refracts through the eye. But unlike a contact lens, it sits in your eye and never needs replacing.

Phakic IOLs can’t correct farsightedness, but they can correct very large amounts of nearsightedness (myopia) and astigmatism.  They are especially useful for highly nearsighted patients that may not qualify for laser vision correction procedures, either due to the amount of the refractive error alone or possibly due to a thin cornea.

Phakic IOLs and ICLs

An Implantable Collamer Lens, or ICL, is another term for a Phakic IOL. The name comes from the material that the lens is made from.

Collamer is related to collagen, a protein that your body naturally produces. Because collamer is so similar to collagen, it’s more readily accepted by your eyes. Collamer exists in natural harmony with the rest of your body without the threat of being rejected by it.

The Visian ICL

Most people are familiar with the name for implantable contact lenses: the Visian ICL. Having the Visian ICL implanted is a simple procedure that only takes a few minutes.

To insert the Visian ICL requires a small incision in the eye. It’s folded up and inserted through this incision.

The surgeon unfurls it and makes sure it’s oriented correctly. No stitches are needed to close the incision afterward because it’s small enough that it heals on its own.  You can perform the procedure on both eyes at the same time, and it is often performed in an outpatient surgery center.

Why the Visian ICL is Worth Considering

There are many options when it comes to vision correction surgery. What makes the Visian ICL worth considering?

For one thing, it’s an excellent alternative to LASIK if you don’t qualify due to having thin corneas. LASIK requires your corneas to be a certain thickness.

Having thick enough corneas ensures it’s safe to create a flap and remove tissue to reshape your cornea, correcting your refractive errors. The Visian ICL doesn’t require any tissue removal, so your corneas don’t have to be a specific size or thickness.

The Visian ICL is also a good choice if you are predisposed to dry eye syndrome. Many vision correction surgeries, including LASIK, can trigger dry eye symptoms as you’re recovering.

But since the Visian ICL is from a material that is close to a natural, biological substance, it causes less discomfort during recovery. It also has a much lower risk of triggering dry eye symptoms.

The Visian ICL Opens Up More Vision Correction Possibilities for Patients

If you’re incredibly nearsighted, the Visian ICL may even be the only vision correction surgery option that can fully correct your vision. Visian ICL can correct your eyesight up to -20.00 diopters.

LASIK and similar laser procedures can only correct nearsightedness up to -11.00 or -12.00 diopters at the most. If you’re severely nearsighted, you may not even know that vision surgery can correct your vision entirely, but the Visian ICL can!

Another thing you may not realize about the Visian ICL is you can reverse it later on. You can have it removed at any time, including if you change your mind or if you need to have an IOL inserted during cataract surgery.

Knowing the Visian ICL is entirely reversible for any reason gives many patients peace of mind. Whether you choose not to have LASIK, find out you’re not a good LASIK candidate, or prefer the vision correction abilities of the Visian ICL, this Implantable Collamer Lens is worth considering if you want to achieve visual freedom from glasses and contact lenses.

Learn more about your vision correction options by scheduling an appointment at Diagnostic Eye Center in Houston, TX, now!


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