Potential risks of ARTISAN lens surgery include the possibility of infection. It is for this reason that we choose to treat each eye on separate occasions with an appropriate interval of 2 weeks between treatments. There is also a small possibility of damage to structures within the eye that could lead to glaucoma, inflammation of the iris (uveitis), retinal complications, corneal decompensation or cataract. Ultimately, the ARTISAN lens may need to be removed from the eye. For these reasons we always advise patients to have long-term follow-up review appointments.
Over the past few years intraocular 'implantable contact lenses' have been available. STAAR Implantable Contact Lenses are made partly from collagen - the fibre that is the basic building block of the eye. At present, there is only fairly short-term follow-up data available on patients who have had these lenses inserted, but the biocompatibilty of the Implantable Contact Lens seems good. Implantable Contact Lenses can be used to correct both short-sight (from -3D to -18D) and long-sight (from +1.5D to +18 D). A new toric Implantable Contact Lens to correct astigmatism has recently been introduced.
Unlike the Artisan lens, the STAAR Implantable Contact Lens is placed into the eye via a very small incision at the edge of the cornea and is then positioned behind the iris and in front of the natural crystalline lens of the eye.
The insertion of the Implantable Contact Lens is also generally carried out under local anaesthetic. Drops are put into the eye to dilate the pupil and anaesthetise the cornea. A small incision (3mm) is made at the edge of the cornea and the Implantable Contact Lens is injected into the eye and carefully placed over the natural lens.
A drug solution is then injected into the eye to constrict the pupil. After the operation antibiotic drops are given to help prevent infection and steroid drops to suppress inflammation. Visual recovery is rapid, with functional vision virtually straight away and stabilisation of refraction within a few weeks.
The majority of lens implants used are of fixed focus (monofocal), but there are also multifocal implants which give vision for both distant and near objects. However, if monofocal lenses are implanted in both eyes with one eye left a little short-sighted, a similar range of vision can be achieved.
In people who have a significant amount of astigmatism, special toric (aspherical) intraocular lenses may be required to achieve the desired optical outcome, or incisions can be made in the cornea at the time of surgery in order to reduce the astigmatism (astigmatic keratotomy). Alternatively the surgery can be followed by laser surgery to the cornea (e.g. LASIK), to correct the astigmatism.