People who have a high level of short-sightedness or long-sightedness may not be suitable for laser eye surgery. If their eyes are in otherwise good health and they are between the ages of 18 and 50, they may be suitable for a type of implantable lens.
Implantable lenses – sometimes called implantable contact lenses – are tiny artificial lenses designed to be placed semi-permanently within the eye. The lens itself is flexible – it is inserted via a micro-incision that a surgeon makes in the side of the cornea. It will then unfurl and be secured in place. There is no need for sutures, as the eye should heal naturally in a matter of weeks. Unlike laser eye surgery, the lens can be removed at a later stage should a lens procedure (such as cataract surgery) be required.
There are two:
In both these cases your own natural lens isn’t touched, so you will keep the ability to effortlessly change focus between distance and near vision.
The benefits of implantable lenses can be very significant, especially for people who wear uncomfortable, heavy glasses or are struggling with contact lenses and who are unsuitable for laser eye surgery.
Post surgery, you’ll need your eye examined on a yearly basis – this is to ensure that the lens stays in position and that your intraocular pressure continues to be normal. The exam will also determine whether the cells on the back of the cornea are healthy and your natural lens remains clear. Implantable lenses cannot be felt in the eye, require no maintenance and can achieve a good quality of vision.
They can also be removed when, for example, cataract surgery is necessary at some stage in the future. An ophthalmologist will need to ensure that there is enough room inside the eye to allow fluid to flow properly around the implantable lens once it is in place.
Not everyone is a suitable candidate. Implantable lens surgery is more involved than laser eye surgery and requires careful consideration of the benefits and risks before proceeding. LASIK is always the procedure of choice for those who are suitable for it because it is non-invasive, safe, predictable and effective.