Implantable contact lenses (aka phakic IOLs) can be thought of as similar to an ordinary contact lens, however, instead of the lens sitting on the surface of your eye, it is placed permanently inside your eye. The implantable contact lens procedure is a simple operation and carries a high success rate.
About Implantable Contact Lenses:
Implantable contact lenses/phakic IOLs are generally made up of a material called Collamer which is completely bio-compatible with your eye. They are commonly used for extreme short-sighted prescriptions (approx. over -10.00 DS) which fall outside the treatable range of either Lasik or Lasek.
Implantable contact lenses can in theory also be used for long-sighted prescriptions that fall out of the treatable range of laser eye surgery but more often than not such people will be unsuitable for this treatment due to restrictions in the depth of the anterior chamber.
Where Are Implantable Contact Lenses Placed in Your Eye?
The anterior chamber is the area at the front of the eye between the iris (coloured part of the eye) and the cornea (clear outer surface). This is where the implantable contact lens is generally placed and therefore the anterior chamber has to be big enough to accommodate it. Long sighted eyes are smaller than short-sighted eyes and so consequently have a much smaller anterior chamber. This is why extreme long sighted prescriptions are often not suitable for Implantable contact lenses as there is quite simply not enough room for them.
Who Are Implantable Contact Lenses Suitable For?
Implantable contact lenses are typically a treatment for younger patients aged between 21-50 years old. The reason for this is that an Implantable contact lens does not interfere with the focusing power of your eye as your natural lens is left intact. The natural lens in your eye is called upon whenever you need to focus on anything close to you. During the procedure, a lens equal to the prescription in your glasses/contact lenses will be inserted into your eye to enable you to see clearly. Following the procedure, when you need to read something up close the natural lens in your eye will continue to focus as it always has done. This is one of the main advantages of implantable contact lenses. This is different from refractive lens exchange as with this procedure the natural lens inside your eye is replaced by an artificial lens and hence your focussing power is impaired. For this reason, refractive lens exchange is generally recommended for people over the age of 50 years old. For more information on refractive lens, exchange read the following guide: How does refractive lens exchange work?
How Much Do Implantable Contact Lenses Cost?
As with laser eye surgery, the price will vary depending on your prescription and the clinic which you choose to perform the procedure. The cost of implantable contact lenses typically starts from around £2000 per eye but this will be higher if you need a toric lens implant. Toric lens implants are used to correct astigmatism over a certain amount. If you have a small amount of astigmatism you are unlikely to need a toric lens but the only way you will know for certain is by going for a consultation to assess your suitability and requirements.
For more detailed information on what to expect during the implantable contact lens procedure, you can read this detailed guide.