Phakic Lens Implants
What are phakic lens implants?
Phakic intraocular lenses (IOLs) are plastic or silicone lenses that are permanently implanted into your eye to correct near-sightedness, and reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses.
Phakic lens implants redirect light rays on to your retina to allow your near-sighted eye to see distant objects more clearly.
Phakic intraocular lenses versus intraocular lenses following cataract surgery
Phakic means that the intraocular lens is implanted into your eye without removing its natural lens. This differs to cataract surgery, where the IOLs are implanted after your eye's cloudy natural lens (cataract) has been removed..
When are phakic lens implants recommended?
Phakic lens implants are used to correct refractive errors, when you have a problem focusing light on your retina due to the shape of your eye, particularly near-sightedness (myopia).
If you are near-sighted you have more difficulty seeing distant objects than near objects. The images of distant objects come into focus in front of your retina instead of on the retina, so objects faraway are out of focus or blurred.
Phakic lenses allow light entering your eye to be focused on the retina so that you have clear distance vision without wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Alternatives to phakic surgery
Surgery is not required to correct near-sightedness. You can decide to wear glasses or contact lenses instead to give you better vision.
An alternative to phakic IOLs is laser eye surgery, including LASIK and PRK, for correcting myopia. However, not everyone is a good candidate for laser surgery, and it may not be suitable if you have: too much near-sightedness, an unusually thin or irregularly shaped cornea, or an eye condition such as keratoconus or dry eye syndrome.
If you have moderate to severe near-sightedness you may be better suited for phakic IOLs than laser surgery.
What happens during phakic surgery?
You may be given: a sedative before treatment, an injection of medication around your eye to numb it, and also an injection around your eye that stops you from moving your eye.
During phakic lens implantation surgery, a small incision is made in the front of your eye. The phakic lens is inserted through this incision and placed just in front of or just behind your iris, depending upon the phakic lens type. Your incision may be closed with stitches and then covered with a patch and/or a shield. Surgery typically takes around 30 minutes.
After phakic lens implant surgery
After surgery you will probably rest in recovery for a few hours before going home.
You’ll be given antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to use at home as directed. You should not rub your eyes, especially in the days following surgery.
For the first few days your vision will probably be blurred and you may be sensitive to light. Improvement will be gradual. It typically takes two to four weeks for your vision to stabilise.
You should contact your doctor immediately if you feel severe pain. You will need to attend regular follow up appointments.
The main benefit is the ability to correct high degrees of near-sightedness and negate the need to wear glasses or contact lenses.
Phakic lens implants are an alternative to LASIK surgery if your near-sightedness falls out of the LASIK treatment range and can produce excellent results.
Many patients achieve uncorrected vision of 20/40 or better.
Implanting a phakic lens involves a surgical procedure and carries risks. You need to carefully consider the benefits and risks of phakic lens surgery beforehand. Your doctor will discuss these in detail with you. Some complications include:
- Distorted or loss of vision.
- Visual symptoms including glare, halos, double vision, and/or decreased vision in low level lighting.
- Your phakic lens may need repositioning, replacing or removing.
- Your lens may be too strong or too weak, and so glasses for some tasks or repeat surgery may be needed.
- Infection or inflammation of your eye.
- Develop glaucoma or cataracts that require treatment.
- Increased risk of retinal detachment.
- Your cornea may become cloudy.
There may be other risks that we don’t know about as phakic lenses are a new technology.