FDA Approves New Implantable Contact Lenses
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a second implantable contact lens. The first lens approved by the FDA, known as Verisyse, became available in late 2004. Now the FDA has approved a new lens known as the Implantable Collamer Lens or ICL named Visian ICL. This lens is useful for correcting vision problems including myopia or nearsightedness in patients.
One of the benefits of this new implantable lens is its versatility. Surgeons can fold the ICL lens and insert it using a small incision, leaving the patient with fewer problems or complications arising from LASIK eye surgery such as dry eye and glare and halo. This "state-of-the-art" technology is much safer and displays greater stability than the previous lens introduced in 2004. Patients using the ICL lens report a much higher quality of life and satisfaction rate with the new lens compared to it's predecessor.
Though the lens is relatively new, the procedure to implant the lens is similar to cataract surgery, which is a perfected procedure that has been around for around 200 years.
Laser Eye Surgery or ICL Surgery?
Use of the implantable lens is an alternative to corneal surface refractive surgery to correct nearsightedness. How do you decide whether an implant or Lasik refractive surgery is best for you? The answer is of course, "it depends."
Surgeons have used laser correction for more than two decades. As time has passed surgeons have improved the techniques they use and increased the types of refractive surgery available to patients. Laser vision correction typically involves reshaping the cornea (the clear covering) in the eye. Many patients report seeing 20/20 following surgery, some will find their vision is even better.
Custom laser vision correction provides even more accurate results than traditional LASIK. But as with any surgery, there are risks. Laser refractive surgery for example, comes with risks including dry eye, irritation, and blurry vision, over or under correction or infection.
While lens implants have not been around as long as laser surgery, they may be a better choice for patients that are not ideal candidates for lasik procedures. People with severe nearsightedness that are not candidates for LASIK may have better success with an with an implantable ICL.
One important difference between the two is the ICL lens can be reversible. Laser surgery involves the permanent removal of tissue surrounding the cornea to reshape the eye and improve vision. If something goes wrong during surgery, a patient will likely have to have another surgery to correct the first procedure.
With an implant, the surgeon is not restructuring the anatomy of the eyeball itself, but adding a lens to enhance the vision. If something goes wrong, the surgeon can remove the implant and replace it if necessary. This may be a more feasible alternative for patients that are hesitant to undergo a more permanent procedure such as LASIK.
Because ICL lenses are new however, there are no long-term studies that determine the safety and efficacy of implants. While they seem a good choice for now, only time will tell if they are a better choice than lasik surgery or if they are about the same. Keep in mind also the ICL lens is more expensive than LASIK surgery today, in part because the procedure is new and still being developed. Like LASIK, most insurance companies do not cover ICL surgery.
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