ICL / Phakic IOL
‘Phakic’ refers to an eye that still has its natural lens in place. ‘Aphakic’ refers to an eye that has had its natural lens removed. Therefore, a Phakic IOL is an artificial Intra-Ocular Lens (IOL) that is implanted inside the eye without removing the eye’s natural lens. Because in a sense it works as an ultra thin, permanent contact lens, it is often referred to as ICL, or Intraocular Contact Lens.
Both the cornea and the lens are responsible for focusing light images on the retina. The most common forms of refractive surgery, PRK and LASIK, change the focusing power of the eye by removing tissue from the cornea. For those who were too nearsighted or farsighted to have their corneas reshaped, an intra-ocular procedure that replaced the natural lens with an IOL was the only viable alternative – until now.
When we are young, the natural lens inside the eye changes shape to help us see clearly in the distance and up close. This is called “accommodation”. Usually, around age 40 the natural lens loses its ability to change shape. This condition is called “presbyopia”.
Phakic IOLs are ideal for younger patients whose natural lens can still change shape. Phakic IOLs can be thought of as implantable contact lenses. Some Phakic IOLs are designed to be placed in front of the iris (coloured part of the eye) while others are designed to be placed behind the iris.
Performed as an outpatient procedure, the IOL is placed inside the eye through a very small, self-sealing incision. You will remain comfortable as the eye is completely anesthetized. Everyone heals differently, but many patients report improvement in their vision almost immediately, and most resume their normal activities within a day or two. One eye is done at a time, and the second eye is usually done within a week or two.