You may be familiar with disposable or monthly contact lenses but what about Implantable Contact Lenses? If you think it sounds like something out of a mind-bending sci-fi movie, don't worry! It's not as far-fetched as it seems.
They are contact lenses used for correcting the vision. Unlike traditional contact lenses that requires you to remove them daily, these lenses are surgically placed inside your eyes.
Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist Dr Daphne Han has more than 18 years of experience managing numerous types of eye-related conditions in the young and old.
She focuses especially on cataract surgeries, LASIK and other alternatives. Through DoctorxDentist Sessions, she shared more info about ICL, including its advantages (as well as possible complications).
Here are some of the key takeaways.
"Why would anyone insert permanent lenses into their eyes?!"
Calm down! ICL is a soft, foldable lens that works with the natural lens of your eye to correct your vision. This lens is implanted between your iris and your natural lens through a tiny incision.
With an ICL in your eye, you get to experience perfect vision without the need for daily cleaning or disinfecting.
Is ICL better than LASIK?
No, neither one is better than the other. Dr Daphne explains that case by case assesment is required before she can recommend a treatment.
Weighing the pros and cons of ICL and LASIK
|ICL||LASIK (in general)|
|Does not affect cornea, cause less dry eyes||Tends to cause dry eyes|
|Great for treating high amount of myopia and astigmatism||Will not do justice to people with high degrees|
|Minimal glares and halos||Glares and halos tend to appear at night, particularly for higher power of treatment|
At a glance, it might seem as if ICL is better than LASIK. However, Dr Daphne explained further that with the advancement of medical technology, “LASIK” is no longer just “LASIK”.
Within the same family of laser vision correction treatment, there are also other treatments such as advanced surface ablation (e.g. LASEK and transPRK) and RELEX SMILE.
Even “LASIK” itself has several options, such as standard LASIK, customized LASIKm and LASIK-EXTRA. Some of these LASIK options provide results that rival ICL.
You have to work with your doctor to find the best treatment for your condition.
If you're suffering from high myopia and astigmatism, you're a suitable candidate for ICL
In Singapore, the most common reasons for ICL surgery are:
- High myopia
- High astigmatism
- Thin or irregular cornea not meeting criteria for LASIK
- Patients with complications from previous LASIK needing correction
- Patients with regression of power after previous LASIK who cannot have further enhancements
- Those who simply prefer the ICL over LASIK, having been fully informed of the pros and cons of all options
- Patients who have had previous cataract surgery and wish to correct significant residual eye power
Most clinics charge upwards of $10,000 for ICL surgery on a pair of eyes
The cost is determined by 3 main factors:
- The doctor that's performing the surgery
- Where the surgery will take place
- The eye power of the person being treated
Facility fees may or may not be included and the costs may vary depending on whether you go for a more established surgical setting (like a reputable, centrally located hospital operating theatre) or whether you opt for a standalone day surgery centre.
Additionally, you should look at how much more ICL that treats both myopia and astigmatism can cost.
Yes, people with ICL can play contact sports and swim
As long as they spend an average of 4-6 weeks recovering right after the surgery, it's safe for people with ICL to play contact sports and swim.
During your post-operative recovery period, it's crucial that you keep your eyes as clean and contaminant-free as possible.
Don't enter swimming pools or take hot baths no matter how tempting they may seem (it's just a temporary precaution).
Like any other medical procedures, there are risks involved
The ICL procedure involves placing lenses into the limited internal space of the eye. Hence, the main risks are to the surrounding structures.
Firstly, the clear, natural lens of the eye may develop a cataract because of the surgery (although the risks have lowered with recent advancements).
Secondly, there is also a risk of the eye developing glaucoma (increased pressure that can damage the optic nerve), either temporarily after surgery or gradually in the long term.
These risks are small, albeit possible, so it's best to advise your specialist before proceeding.
It's not for life! Your ICL lens can be removed or replaced
Yes, getting an ICL lens not a lifetime commitment. It's a reversible procedure. The lens can be quite safely removed through the original port of entrance. So if your degree ever changes, you can always replace it with another lens.
As medical advancements progress in dynamic and exciting ways, ICL is yet another amazing step that has seen much success in recent times.
If you’re interested in opting for ICL, you should seek out expert advice and consult your specialist. Ask them all the questions you have regarding the procedure.
To find out more, read Dr Daphne's full DxD session on implantable contact lens here.
Ever wanted to ask a health question to a specific renowned specialist in Singapore? DxD Sessions are when these expert doctors answer all your questions, for free!