Phakic Intraocular Lenses for Nearsightedness

Implanting an intraocular lens is another option for people who are unable to undergo LASIK or other laser vision correction surgery to treat their nearsightedness. The Phakic intraocular lens (IOL) was found to be healthy and efficient after five years in a recent review.

Phakic IOLs are transparent implantable lenses that are surgically inserted between the cornea and the iris (the colored part of the eye) or just behind the iris, without removing the natural lens of the eye. Without the use of eyeglasses, phakic IOLs enable light to focus correctly on the retina, resulting in clearer vision.

Why Cant Everyone Undergo Lasik Surgery?

phakic intraocular lenses for nearsightedness

According to Jeffrey Whitman, MD, of the Key-Whitman Eye Center in Dallas, there are many explanations why a person might not be able to have laser eye surgery to fix his or her vision. “The more corneal tissue we need to remove with LASIK surgery, the more nearsighted you are. There may not be enough tissue to extract if a person is very nearsighted (or has a thin cornea).”

According to Dr. Whitman, scarring in the cornea or an irregularly formed cornea (astigmatism) can render laser eye surgery impossible.

Five years after the treatment, the researchers tracked 31 people with mild to severe nearsightedness or severe astigmatism. Many of the patients had 20/200 vision or worse before the operation, and about 60% of them could reach 20/40 vision with glasses or contact lenses.

Five years after getting the Phakic lenses implanted, 57% of the eyes had 20/40 vision without glasses or contacts, and another 23% had 20/40 vision with glasses or contacts. After five years, all of the lenses stayed clear, and none of the people who had the surgery lost any vision sharpness.

What’s the Difference Between Phakic Lenses and Laser Surgery?

phakic intraocular lenses for nearsightedness

The Phakic implant is a more invasive operation than laser surgery, which is done on the outside of the eye. Dr. Whitman says that while intraocular surgery has been shown to be very safe, it still carries a higher risk than laser surgery.

In terms of efficacy, laser surgery and Phakic lenses are identical, as “both can deliver very close to 20/20 vision,” he says. The Phakic procedure is simple – around 15 minutes per eye on average – but it is expensive, costing about $4,000 per eye versus $1,500 to $3,000 per eye for laser surgery.

Patients typically use eye drops for two or three weeks following Phakic lens surgery, compared to a week or ten days after laser surgery.

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