Singapore has one of the highest rate of myopia. At 7 years old, about 20% of children in Singapore are myopic and more than 70% are myopic upon completing college. People with myopia see better at near while distant objects are blurred. This is the most common form of refractive error among Singaporeans and Asians.
Apart from myopia, other commonly cited refractive errors include astigmatism and presbyopia (lao hua). Astigmatism occurs when the curvature of one part of the cornea is different from another, resulting in light rays being focused at various points in the eye. This condition leads to blurring and distortion of the image.
Presbyosia refers to a progressive difficulty in focusing on near objects and reading as one grows older. It is the result of an age-related decrease in the elasticity of the lens and weakening of the eye’s focusing power, and usually starts at about 40 years of age.
Implantable contact lens (ICL) or phakic intraocular lens
One safe and effective method of correcting vision is the implantation of a phakic intraocular lens. The most widely established phakic intraocular lens is the Visian implantable collamer lens, more commonly called implantable contact lens (ICL).
Once implanted, the lens is invisible to the naked eye and patients can resume all their normal activities.
ICL can correct a wide range of refractive errors of up to 1,900 degrees of short-sightedness and 500 degrees of astigmatism. It is particularly useful for people with high refractive errors (ie. those above 900 degrees) or people who are not suitable for LASIK due to very thin corneas.
For people with very high degrees, ICL surgery can give patients high-definition vision in the day and night, with less night vision disturbances (eg. haloes and starbursts) as compared to LASIK.
ICL can be used to treat:
- Myopia (short-sightedness) of 1900 degrees
- Astigmatism of 600 degrees
- Hyperopia (far-sightedness) of 600 degrees
Surgical process and recovery
The surgery is simple and painless and takes about 10 minutes. The lens is inserted through a small incision at the edge of the cornea and is placed behind the iris and in front of the natural crystalline lens.
The wound heals on its own without stitches. Recovery is relatively fast with minimal discomfort. Most patients are able to return to work or school within a few days of the procedure.
Advantages of ICL surgery
- Patients with higher degrees (above 800) can now experience better quality of vision in day and night as compared to LASIK surgery
- Better night vision with less disturbances as compared to LASIK surgery
- Suitable for patients who are not suitable for LASIK surgery
- Can treat a much wider range of refractive errors of up to 1,900 degrees
- Reversible and the lenses can be removed if necessary
- Faster visual recovery
- No dry eye effect
- More predictable
Short-sightedness, far-sightedness, lao hua, astigmatism – these are commonly cited refractive errors that can be corrected with ICL even in the most severe of cases, so you can bid those cumbersome glasses and contact lenses a permanent goodbye.