Implantable contact lenses (also called phakic intraocular lenses or IOLs) are a surgical option for correcting moderate to severe myopia (nearsightedness). An alternate choice to LASIK or PRK eye surgery, IOLs can produce better and more predictable vision outcomes than laser refractive surgery.
The lenses are implanted surgically in the eye, either placed between the cornea and the iris (colored portion of the eye) or just behind the iris, without removing your natural lens. Implantable contact lenses enable light to focus properly on the retina for sharper, clearer vision without corrective eyewear. They function like contact lenses to correct nearsightedness and provide a permanent treatment option to myopia. Unlike traditional contact lenses, you cannot feel the implanted lens in your eye, and apart from regular eye exams, implantable lens typically do not require any maintenance.
There are currently two IOLs available in the United States:
Verisyse is an anterior chamber IOL, meaning the lens is positioned in front of the iris. This lens is made from medical-grade plastic and is rigid. Verisyse are not typically noticeable in the eye, though you may see the lens if you look closely in the mirror.
Visian is a posterior chamber IOL, meaning the lens is positioned behind the iris and in front of your natural lens. Because this lens is placed behind the iris, it is undetectable to the naked eye. This lens is made of a soft biocompatible collagen copolymer and allows for a smaller surgical incision.
Things to Consider
- Has your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses changed in the past year? For vision correction surgeries, you must have stable vision for at least a year.
- Are your eyes healthy? If you have conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and untreated eye infections, this will generally prevent you from having implantation surgery.
- Are you in good health? Certain diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, type one diabetes, HIV and AIDS, as well as certain medications such as steroids and immunosuppressants may interfere with healing and final outcomes.
Talk to your eye doctor to find out if implantable contact lenses are right for you.