About Dr Cheryl Lee


The Sunday Times SG50 Hall of Fame 5 April 2015

Another way to see clearly

Dr Cheryl Lee discusses the differences between Lasik And ICL. She explains why preserving the anatomy of the eye in ICL causes less or even none of the side effects of Lasik in the short and long term.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction


Those who wish to wake up to perfect vision but have reservations about laser eye surgery, or Lasik, may now have an alternative.

Increasingly popular, the Implantable contact lens (ICL) is a specially customized lens that can be inserted behind the Iris by folding and implanting it through a small 2mm opening. It is placed in a natural space in the eye. The ICL is made of a soft foldable material called collamer, similar to collagen, making it biocompatible with the eyes.

Dr Cheryl Lee, cataract, retinal and implantable contact lens specialist at Pacific Eye Centre, says: "Patients coming to my clinic choose ICL because it has many clear advantages over glasses, contact lenses, Lasik and Epilasik

With ICL, no changes are made to the cornea in any way, which eliminates any permanent damage or side effects such as halos, glare and corona flap complications.

She says: "Laser corneal surgery works by thinning the cornea, and in the process, nerves that stimulate tear production are destroyed, which explains why patients suffer from dry eyes after the procedure. This does not happen with ICL Hence, patients with dry eyes can still have ICL and their condition will not worsen after surgery."

Dr Lee adds: 'For many, It Is not just a cosmetic procedure. Vision is better If the correction is closer to the eye. This explains why glasses give poorer vision than contact lenses. "But with contact lenses, dry eyes and hypoxia especially with prolonged wear, cause your eyes to look tired and red. Long-term wear of contact lens is also not healthy for the cornea because of lack of oxygen.'

Most importantly, the ICL procedure is reversible. When presbyopia occurs due to ageing, lenses can be exchanged later in life . "When we grow older, we may start to have reading vision problems among other issues. But because ICL is reversible, It can be replaced with a multi-focal lens, for instance, to accommodate your new prescription. Lasik does not give you that option," she says.

ICL also has UV protection, which offers added coverage against sun rays that cause retinal problems.

Dr Lee says that long-term results have been excellent both in terms of efficiency and safety. She adds that about every 10 minutes, an ICL is implanted in the world. Patients who have dry eyes, severe myopia, thin cornea or have had Lasik and noticed a deterioration of vision can opt for ICI. Dr. Lee says the basic criterion is that there should be enough space for the lens to be placed. This is easily determined by a quick and non-contact scan with immediately results. The ICL procedure takes about 20 minutes and is performed as a day procedure. Patients can move around and go home within hours after the lens has been implanted. Following surgery, patients will be required to use antibiotic drops for two weeks. No stitching will be required as the small 2mm Incision which is self-sealing wound. Dr. Lee adds: 'There is no need to stay in the hospital. If people are anxious it can be performed under sedation. Most would choose just eye drops for anaesthetic as the procedure is quick and painless" 

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