More Opt for Contact Lens Implants (The Straits Times, 09 Sep 2010)
This independent newspaper article is about ICL versus Lasik in the Singapore context. The side effects of Lasik are inevitable as they are linked with the corneal layer being removed. The ICL procedure involves the surgical expertise of implanting a lens and in good hands the results are premium and Beyond Lasik
More Opt for Contact Lens Implants
Many do not mind that it costs thrice that of a Lasik procedure as it gives better results for those with high myopia and has fewer side effects.
FOO CHIAN HUI reports
While the time-tested Lasik surgery is still popular here, more people who desire perfect vision are now opting for Implantable Contact Lenses(ICL) , a trademarked Swiss lens eye , specialists have observed.
In Singapore, about 1,000 such lens implants have been done since 2005, with 300 of the procedures performed this year alone so far, according to figures from STAAR Surgical Company, which produces the lenses used here.
Implantable Contact Lenses were introduced here in 2005 while Lasik—which does not use implants but involves cutting into the cornea and using laser energy to reshape it— has been available for more than 15 years. The ICL has been available internationally for 15 years.
It takes about 10 minutes to perform an implant, the same time needed for a Lasik procedure.
In general, ICLs can treat much higher degrees of myopia of up to 1,900 degrees per eye, while Lasik is usually limited to a maximum of 1,200 to 1,400 degrees. Hence, ICLs are especially suitable for those with high myopia of above 700 degrees in each eye.
More importantly, people with high myopia tend to have thin corneas. This rules out Lasik surgery for them. Like Lasik, ICLs are also effective for those with low to moderate myopia.
Their growing popularity here is mirrored globally.
Worldwide, a lens is implanted every 10 minutes today, compared to one every 20 minutes in 2008. These figures came from The European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons' symposium in Paris last Thursday.
This is despite the high cost of the procedure—about $4,000 per eye. This works out to be about thrice the cost of Lasik, which can start from around $1,000.
MrTeo Yen Kai, 29, had contact lens implants for his eyes this March. He said the $8,500 he paid for the operation was worth the cost, as he no longer needs to wear spectacles or contact lenses.
The engineer has high myopia of 1,200 and 1,300 degrees in his right and left eye respectively, and 75 degrees of astigmatism in both. This made him more suited for implants.
"My job requires me to travel often and to put in long hours. For example, I have been at work for 14 hours today," he said when speaking to this reporter.
MrTeo is also a mountaineer. He was the first Singaporean to scale Mount Everest in 2005.
He had experienced discomfort with his contact lenses while climbing. His decision to have the procedure was spurred by his plans to go on future expeditions.
At present, about 14 clinics offer the procedure, including Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and Tan Tock Seng.