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Phakic IOLs ("Implantable Contact Lenses")

Also known as "implantable phakic contact lenses (ICL / IPCL)", phakic intraocular lenses (pIOL) are an excellent option for vision correction with highly accurate outcomes and rapid visual recovery.

Click below to read a recent interview I gave regarding phakic IOLs:

The procedure involves implanting a specially designed artificial lens behind your iris and in front of the natural lens inside your eye. In theory, this can correct any amount of short-sightedness, long-sightedness and regular astigmatism.

Phakic IOLs are particularly useful if you have a spectacle prescription that is too high, or if your cornea is not sufficiently robust, for laser vision correction. Some surgeons use phakic IOLs as their first-line approach to vision correction surgery.

Phakic IOL surgery usually takes around 10-15 minutes per eye and is performed under local anaesthetic, with light sedation. Many patients like to have both eyes treated on the same day, although this is not essential and sometimes separating the operations by a few weeks is a better option. Your eye(s) will be checked approximately one hour after surgery, and after this you will be able to go home. Eyedrops and sometimes tablets are required afterwards to reduce pressure or inflammation inside the eye.

As with all surgery, there are risks and limitations. Phakic IOLs are considered to carry a slightly higher risk than laser vision correction, as the surgery is performed inside the eye instead of on the surface. This is why I tend to reserve phakic IOLs for patients who would not be suitable for laser vision correction. There is a small risk of premature cataract formation, raised pressure inside the eye, and corneal swelling due to damage to its inner lining (the endothelium). These conditions, or an under- or over-sized lens implant, may require further surgery or treatment, potentially involving the removal of the lens implant. There is also a 1 in 1000 risk of an infection causing loss of vision. 

To reduce these risks, your eyes will be thoroughly examined and measured to determine whether phakic IOL surgery may be suitable for you. Annual surveillance after surgery is recommended to monitor the health of your corneal endothelium and the pressure in your eyes.

For more information, click here to download a useful Patient Information guide produced by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (2017).

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