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Contact lens implants

By: Dr Carlos Moedas

Dr Carlos Moedas is an ophthalmic surgeon working at the Hospital Particular do Algarve since 1996.

The human eye works like an old fashioned camera, it has lenses that are able to converge an image at the back of the eye:  the retina.

If these lenses are not sufficiently powerful, the image does not form correctly on the retina and, therefore, the resulting vision will be poor. The patient may then be suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

The correction of this defect of our natural lens is made with the use of eyeglasses or contact lenses and, more recently,  surgery has solved this problem.

There are basically two options for treating bad vision through surgery:  

The laser  or  implantation of intraocular lenses

The laser method has, due to its simplicity and quick results, become very popular.  However, it cannot solve numerous cases.  

A new alternative has been developed in recent years, which has surpassed the laser due to the quality of results obtained.

This new method is known as Implantable Contact Lenses.  

The Implantable Contact Lens, or ICL, is capable of correcting nearly all refractive disorders including conditions where conventional laser treatment may not be advisable. Those conditions may include:

• Mild to high nearsightedness and/or astigmatism

• Thin or irregular cornea

• Dry eyes

The following are some of the main features of the ICL:

1. It is tiny and soft and can be folded so small that it can be injected painlessly into the eye in seconds, through a tiny opening in your cornea. Once injected, it unfolds into position in the liquid between the iris and the natural lens. The ICL is easily tolerated by the body.

2. It is as invisible as a contact lens:  the difference being is that the ICL is placed inside the eye, rather than on the eye surface. The lens is invisible. The only way that anyone will be aware that it is there is due to eyesight improvement. The ICL can neither be seen nor felt once it is inside the eye.

3. It is removable. The lens is meant to remain permanently in the eye but it can be removed if necessary.  Since the lens does not alter any structures within the eye or the cornea, it may be removed.

The surgical procedure

The procedure itself is very simple and consists of three steps:

1. A tiny incision is made.

2. A gel-like substance is then injected into the eye and the ICL is then injected in front of the iris.

3. Finally the ICL is carefully placed behind the iris and the gel is removed from the eye.

And that’s it! The incision does not need any sutures.  It seals naturally and will heal in a very short time.

Implanting the ICL is considered an outpatient procedure and takes about 15 minutes.

A few hours after the procedure, the patient is able to leave the clinic and resume most of their daily activities.

ICL surgery first performed at HPA

The Hospital Particular do Algarve started ICL surgery in January 1997 and was the first Eye Centre in Portugal to undertake this type of surgery.

Since 1997, lenses have gone through vast improvement and evolution and are today the most popular and effective way of correcting myopia, associated hypermetropia and/or astigmatism.

According to many specialist opinions, ICL surpasses the laser since it has proven to provide a higher quality of vision and is considered a highly precise and predictable treatment.