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An implantable lens is a type of contact lens that is typically permanently implanted into the eye to correct myopic, or nearsighted, vision. There are two types of implantable lens approved for use in the United States and Europe, the Visian ICL® and the Verisyse®. The implantation procedure typically varies slightly for each type of implantable lens. It can take up to a month to recover fully from having permanent contact lenses put in, though most patients are able to resume their normal activities the next day. Complications can include detached retina, infection, and cataracts.
While LASIK eye surgery can be used to correct nearsightedness in many patients, some patients may not be eligible for this procedure, perhaps due to excessive thinness of the cornea of the eye. Implantable contact lenses can provide permanent vision correction to those who aren't eligible for LASIK surgery.
It typically takes anywhere from six to 15 minutes to place an implantable lens in a patient's eye. For both eyes, the procedure usually takes about half an hour. The lenses are typically implanted via small incisions in the surface of the eye. The two types of implantable lens currently in use are typically inserted either just behind the cornea, or behind the iris of the eye.
Visian ICL® lenses are usually implanted just under the cornea, and are usually visible to the naked eye upon close inspection. Stitches are generally required to help keep this type of implant in place during recovery. Veisyse lenses are typically inserted behind the iris of the eye, where they can't usually be seen without the help of a microscope, and stitches are not usually required to keep these implants in place during recovery.
Most patients experience better vision as soon as the implantable lenses are in place. Full recovery can take up to a month, and most patients are closely supervised by an opthamologist during that period. The most common side effect is probably a feeling of itchiness, scratchiness, or discomfort in the eye. Most patients experience an improvement in vision sufficient enough to allow for driving and other daily activities without the use of additional vision correction.
Complications of this procedure can include inflammation, irritation, and infection of the eye. Retinal detachment can occur, and cataracts can form. Loss of endothelial cells on the inside of the cornea can also occur. Complication rates are typically lower for the Verisyse® implantable lens than for the Visian ICL®.