Implantable contact lenses, known as phakic intraocular lenses (IOLs) to ophthalmologists, are presently being investigated as another refractive procedure. Phakic IOLs hold promise as potentially a powerful refractive tool with almost unlimited potential to correct refractive errors (nearsightedness and farsightedness). At the present time, Phakic IOLs are expected to gain wide acceptance from ophthalmologists who have implanted IOLs in cataract patients for the past four decades with excellent results.
The phakic IOL is unique, however, in that the thin intraocular lens implant is placed in the eye without removing the natural lens of the eye, as is completed in cataract surgery. At present, phakic IOLs are being studied which are implanted both in front of, and just behind, the iris of the eye. Given that the natural lens of the eye is not removed, the patient retains the natural focusing capability (accommodation) of the eye for near focusing tasks.
The phakic IOL must be shown to be as accurate in correcting high power refractive errors better other refractive procedures (e.g., LASIK, PRK, and Intacs) and have a comparable safety profile. Ophthalmologists believe that the phakic IOL may prove to be a powerful addition to the present refractive armamentarium, especially for those individuals whose refractive errors presently fall out of the range for LASIK.