What are phakic lenses?
Phakic intraocular lenses, or phakic lenses, are lenses made of plastic or silicone that are implanted into the eye permanently to reduce a person’s need for glasses or contact lenses. Phakic refers to the fact that the lens is implanted into the eye without removing the eye’s natural lens. During phakic lens implantation surgery, a small incision is made in the front of the eye. The phakic lens is inserted through the incision and placed just in front of or just behind the iris.
What do they treat?
Phakic lenses are used to correct refractive errors, errors in the eye’s focusing power. All phakic lenses approved by the FDA are for the correction of nearsightedness (myopia).
The cornea and natural lens of the eye focus light to create an image on the retina, much like the way the lens of a camera focuses light to create an image on film. The bending and focusing of light is also known as refraction. Imperfections in the focusing power of the eye, called refractive errors, cause images on the retina to be out of focus or blurred.
People who are nearsighted have more difficulty seeing distant objects than near objects. For these people, the images of distant objects come to focus in front of the retina instead of on the retina.
Ideally, phakic lenses cause light entering the eye to be focused on the retina providing clear distance vision without the aid of glasses or contact lenses.
Benefits of Phakic IOLs
Did you have your heart set on LASIK? If you’re feeling left out because you can’t have this popular procedure, don’t. Phakic IOLs actually have certain advantages over LASIK.
While the vast majority of patients who undergo laser vision correction achieve 20/20 vision or better, there are experts who believe that phakic IOLs are a better option for some patients because they avoid problems that can be caused by the laser, such as visual distortions and/or tiny refractive errors — particularly in patients with high myopia.
In contrast to laser vision correction procedures, no tissue is removed from the cornea when phakic IOLs are implanted. As a result, the procedure poses less risk of certain postoperative symptoms; namely dry eye.
Implanting phakic IOLs is a safe procedure. The lenses are made of a biocompatible material that is very similar to your eyes’ natural lenses, and no permanent sutures are required.
Nearly 100 percent of patients who undergo this procedure achieve the visual acuity required to legally drive, and close to half (or more) of patients achieve 20/20 vision or better.
Implanting phakic IOLs takes just 15 to 30 minutes. Although the procedure is intended to be permanent, the lenses can be removed if necessary. And if you are under 40 and don’t need reading glasses yet, you will be able to see at multiple distances.