In a very few cases, laser eye surgery will not produce the best results. And we are only interested in the best results. So for some patients with extremely high prescriptions, we turn to intra-ocular lenses.
These artificial lenses are often referred to as IOLs, phakic IOLs, implantable lenses, clear lens extraction or exchange (CLE), intra-corneal lens implants, Artisan® lenses, Prelex® lenses, RLR or lens replacement surgery. Their enormous range makes them an excellent – and sometimes the only – option for those with unusually high prescriptions.
Implanting intraocular lenses
In this form of treatment, an intra-ocular lens is surgically implanted into the cornea. The lens is permanent (although it can be surgically removed), and needs no maintenance. These intra-ocular lenses usually remain in the eye for the patient’s entire life.
The intra-ocular lens doesn’t replace the patient’s natural lens. Instead, to preserve the focusing ability needed for reading, the surgeon implants the new lens in front of the natural lens. In this way, it works much as a conventional contact lens would. (Indeed, intraocular lenses are sometimes called ‘implantable contact lenses’).
The surgeon makes a small incision in the cornea and inserts the lens through this opening, where it is positioned exactly in front of the pupil and fixed to the iris with two surgical clips. The surgeon then closes the incision.
In this form of surgery (unlike LASIK), the eyes are usually treated one at a time, with the second treated only once the first eye has healed. This means a delay of two to three weeks between operations.
Once an intra-ocular lens has been implanted, it restores your vision almost immediately. However, it’s not at its best until around three weeks after surgery.