A new type of eye surgery has given hope to severely short-sighted patients who want to rid themselves of thick glasses or contact lenses but are unsuited for laser treatment, two Singapore hospitals said Wednesday.
The procedure, offered by the National University Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, involves surgically implanting a special kind of contact lens in the eye.
The implantable contact lenses (ICLs) are particularly suited to patients who are turned away from Lasik clinics, eye surgeon Lee Hug Ming told The Straits Times.
"Laser surgery is not always suitable for patients with very high myopia or those who have thin corneas or large pupils," Lee was quoted as saying, estimating the number turned away in Singapore at 500 annually.
The ICLs are invisible, require no cleaning and do not need to be removed every day, unlike their conventional predecessors.
Unlike Lasik or laser eye surgery, the ICL procedure is reversible.
ICLs are implanted behind the iris through a 3-mm-long incision in a procedure requiring no stitches. Conventional contact lenses rest on the iris, the coloured portion of the eye.
Provided by Swiss company Staar Surgical, 95 percent of the 300 participants in a three-year trial had either perfect or near-perfect vision after trying the lenses.
Earlier versions of the implants were deemed risky because surgeons had to make larger cuts to insert them, leaving patients more vulnerable to infection.
The Singapore National Eye Centre plans to start trials of the new-generation ICLs. A spokesman told the newspaper that the centre was encouraged by the lens' "better safety features".