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FROM THE VAULT: Intra-Ocular Lens Implants: A New Horizon (Spring 2005)

FROM THE VAULT: Intra-Ocular Lens Implants: A New Horizon (Spring 2005)

Healthy Life Magazine - Spring 2005

"There was a time when people who could not see well needed to wear glasses...and there was no such thing as television, only radio ..." Imagine the tales we could tell today's children!

It hasn't been that long really since those who needed vision correction had only one or two options - glasses or contact lenses. Soft contacts, which revolutionized lens wear, came out in 1971. Surgery to correct vision, using an Excimer laser, was introduced in 1987 and in the year 2000 over one million people had the "LASIK" procedure to improve their vision and escape eyeglasses and contact lenses forever.

Still, there were many patients who were not candidates for this type of surgery due to more severe cases of nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or irregularities of the cornea. Then, a few years ago advances in technology led to CustomVueTM which takes a "fingerprint of your vision" and allows many more people to permanently correct their vision with LASIK surgery.

Now, those who experience vision problems have yet another option - Intra-Ocular Lens Implants (IOL). Approved by the FDA on September 10, 2004, this procedure places a micro-lens called the Phakic IOL behind your cornea. It corrects vision for moderately to very nearsighted people who would not be candidates for traditional LASIK or CustomVue procedures. The IOL was originally designed by Netherlands-based professor, Jan G. F. Worst, MD. , and it was first used for the treatment of myopia (nearsightedness) in 1986. Myopia occurs when the eyeball is slightly longer than usual from front to back. This causes light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on its surface. FDA approval was granted after a comprehensive three-year study and hundreds of thousands of success stories.

"It's a high-tech, but simple procedure that is virtually painless and takes only 15 to 30 minutes to complete," says Daniel L. Sambursky, MD, of Ophthalmic Associates of the Southern Tier, P.C., in Johnson City, NY.

Unlike LASIK, Intra-Ocular Lens Implantation does involve an incision and because of that it is performed as outpatient surgery at the hospital and only one eye can be treated at a time.

Before the procedure, patients should expect a thorough eye examination to assess overall eye health and to determine whether they are good candidates for the surgery. If the eyes are healthy and vision is within the correctable range, the surgery can be scheduled.

During the surgery eye drops are given to reduce pupil size and the doctor will hold the eyelids open using a special instrument. A local and/or IV anesthetic is given and a small incision is made in the cornea. This is where the Phakic Intra-Ocular Lens will be placed, between the iris and the cornea. Once the lens has been implanted it is virtually undetectable and cannot be felt in the eye. It is securely attached inside your eye and will not "fall out".

"The IOL is made of PMMA, which is the same type of material used safely for the past 50 years in cataract surgery. Phakic means that your natural crystalline lens is left in your eye so that your eyes can better adjust between seeing objects near and far," explains Sambursky.

Once the IOL is inserted and centered in front of the pupil, it is gently attached to the iris, which holds the lens in place. This gives your eye another focusing lens to provide high-quality, high-definition vision much like a normal eye would offer. The small incision is then closed with microscopic stitches that dissolve on their own. A protective shield is placed over the eye that was treated for the period immediately after surgery. The next day patients follow up with their surgeon and the results of the procedure are known.

Since only one eye is treated at a time, the patient may need to balance vision with the use a contact lens in the untreated eye. Usually, the second eye can be treated in one to two weeks following the first surgery.

Like LASIK, Verisyse Phakic IOL is ideal for many adults who wish to be free of corrective lenses including; athletes, people in physically demanding professions, and those whose interests or careers demand precision, uncorrected vision.

"The Verisyse Phakic IOL procedure is a breakthrough for patients who are not candidates for any other vision correction procedures. It gives them precision vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses," says Sambursky. "Also, while the procedure is intended to be permanent, it is reversible if desired."

The nature of the procedure also allows for future correction using LASIK, if necessary. This is a benefit to those who experience changes in their vision after the IOL procedure, or who still require additional correction for optimum visual acuity.

"With each advance there are fewer and fewer individuals whose vision can not be permanently corrected with a simple procedure. We would encourage anyone who has considered this possibility to get an examination and explore their options," Sambursky comments.