Since their introduction in the mid-1990s, LASIK and PRK have helped millions of Americans see better without glasses or contact lenses. Since that time, laser eye surgery technology has constantly progressed, affording better, more consistent results to an ever-broadening range of eligible surgical candidates. However, in spite of all of these advances, there is still a significant number of patients who are not good candidates for laser vision correction. Patients with thin or irregularly shaped corneas, extremely high prescriptions, severe dry eyes, or any combination of these factors, may not be suitable patients for LASIK or PRK.
For several years now, there has been a new alternative for these patients: the STAAR Visian(R) implantable collamer lens, or ICL. The Visian(R) ICL procedure consists of placing a corrective lens, similar to a contact lens, in the eye itself. The lens is implanted in front of the eye's natural lens, but behind the iris, so that it is invisible to outside observers. The implantable lens is capable of correcting a higher degree of myopia (nearsightedness) than LASIK, and since the procedure does not involve reshaping the cornea through removal of tissue, it can be performed on patients whose corneas are too thin for laser refractive procedures. In addition, recovery is extremely fast and post-operative vision is incredibly sharp. Visian(R) ICL is an outpatient procedure, with most patients seeing well enough to drive by the next day.
The first ICL was implanted in 1993 and FDA studies began shortly thereafter in 1997. There have been over 330,000 ICLs implanted so far, and a new lens is implanted somewhere in the world every six minutes.
Robert P. Rivera, MD, a surgeon at Hoopes Vision, was one of the initial investigators in the FDA trials. In addition to being an expert LASIK and cataract surgeon, Dr. Rivera is the most experienced ICL surgeon in the United States, having performed thousands of procedures at his previous practice in Arizona. In 2010, Dr. Rivera received the Pioneer Award from Staar Surgical for his contributions to ICL implantation surgery. He has traveled around the world performing the Visian(R) ICL procedure, training other surgeons, and has experienced first-hand the amazing results this surgery can provide. "ICL surgery is a great alternative for patients who are not ideal candidates for LASIK or PRK," Dr. Rivera says. "It's also a great option for people in professions, like law enforcement or photography, where 'high definition' vision is vital to their work."
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