Thrive in Chapter Five, Embrace Your Journey

Self-discovery and Inspiration

Permanent Contact Lenses: My Experience with ICL Eye Surgery 9 Years Later

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My experience with Implantable Collamer Lenses (ICL) 9 years later

Implantable Collamer Lenses (ICL) are an alternative to vision correction surgery for those that are not candidates for LASIK or PRK.  It’s basically permanent lenses inserted between the iris and the natural lens thru a tiny incision that usually does not require stitches.  It is designed to be a permanent solution for nearsightedness, but is reversible and can be removed.

In 2005 the FDA approved ICL in the United States, but it had been available overseas for years. Candidates for ICL surgery are those between the ages of 21-45, have severe myopia and a steady prescription.  

Having impaired vision is not fun

The struggle having severe myopia is real.  My last exam listed my prescription as -15; however, it was later determined to have likely been closer to -16.

Most of my life, my eyesight has been a handicap.  I either wore gas permeable lenses that constantly felt like I had glass in my eyes, coke bottle thick glasses, or I literally could not see more than 2 inches in front of me.

Every morning I would reach for the alarm clock and have to bring it within inches of my eyes in order to read the time.  I never left bed without grabbing my glasses; otherwise, I’d never be able to find the door. In the shower I would have to bring the bottles to my face as well to determine whether or not it was shampoo or conditioner.  

Because this was life long and routine, I never thought anything of these tasks until others commented and I realized no one else needed to do that.

ICL eye surgery

I was disappointed when I learned I was not a candidate for LASIK, but excited that ICL was an option.  As soon as I was able to afford it, I gave myself the present of ICL eye surgery. 

In 2009, Dr. Frank Rosenbaum of Rosenbaum Eye and Laser Center in Lansing, Michigan brought me from severe myopia (-15+) to normal vision literally within a half hour. There are a few different types of ICL, mine was the Starr Visian ICL .

The surgery experience went without a hitch. The staff and facility was top notch.  I felt very comfortable that I was in good hands. I was hooked to an IV, awake, and alert through the process but felt no pain. Each eye was done separately on different days.

Since reaching for the alarm clock and glasses was habitual, it took me quite awhile to stop doing that.  But, I no longer do.

Life-Altering Results

Results were instantly amazing.  I could not believe I didn’t have contacts on.  The initial exam after the surgeries showed me at about a negative -1.25.  This might have been due to my prescription being so high that it was never quite accurate.  Going from a -15+ to a -1.25 was in itself life altering because I could see without correction, it just was slightly fuzzy. Nonetheless, Dr. Rosenbaum then tweaked my eyes with some touch up LASIK and I was brought to 20/20 vision.  It was truly amazing.

ICL surgery is safe, but as with all surgeries there are some risks, such as:  halos, double vision, vision loss. I really didn’t have much trouble with any of that and initially my night vision was fantastic.  

9 Years Later…

Fast forward,  nine years later things have changed somewhat, but it could be a result of my age.  

I was 38 when I had the surgery and am 47 now.  I can see without correction; however, it is fuzzy and my night vision is bothersome again.  At my age it is normal for farsightedness to begin. My last exam showed that I was at about a -1.25.  

The solution was to use one contact lense to correct the nearsightedness and in doing so I have one eye for close vision and one for far away — eliminating the need for bifocals.  I have been told that I could have a LASIK touch up to fine tune the one eye again, but I have not gotten around to it. For the most part, I wear one contact but if I forget or run out, I can still see amazingly well.  

Was it worth it?  Would I do it again?  

Yes, it was worth it and I would do it again. It was truly life altering for me and even though I am once again using a contact, I still have an improved quality of life.

Have you had ICL surgery or are you thinking about it?  Please comment below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

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