About Artificial Irises
A natural iris, the colored, circular part of the eye, is responsible for much more than a person’s eye color. It also controls how much light enters the eye by widening or constricting the pupil. Patients who suffer from aniridia (the genetic absence of the iris) or other iris trauma can experience significant vision impairment, as well as extreme sensitivity to light. Beyond their visual symptoms, they can also suffer from emotional distress caused by the appearance of their eyes. However, these patients now have access to a procedure that can dramatically improve their condition.
CustomFlex artificial irises are the first FDA-approved iris prostheses in the U.S., though artificial irises have been in regular use in Europe for over 15 years. They are made with a medical-grade silicone and can be highly individualized in terms of patients’ eye color and iris size. While the “pupil” of the artificial iris does not open or close, it can be fixed at a much smaller diameter to work best with the functioning iris in the other eye.
At Koch Eye Associates, we always strive to provide our patients with the most innovative treatments and cutting-edge techniques to improve vision, eye health, and overall quality of life. We are very proud to have a skilled ophthalmology surgical team qualified to provide this service to our patients with these iris conditions. If you have aniridia or have experienced an iris injury, schedule a consultation at our Providence, Warwick, North Kingstown, Johnston, Woonsocket, or Wakefield, RI location to find out if you are a candidate for an artificial iris.
The CustomFlex artificial iris is specially designed for individuals with aniridia (hereditary absence of the iris) or other iris trauma, such as partial or total removal due to melanoma. However, as with any surgical procedure, patients will need to have a comprehensive eye exam at Koch Eye Associates to determine if they are good candidates for the CustomFlex iris. It is important that patients considered for the procedure be in overall good health and not be pregnant. Other conditions that may restrict a patient’s candidacy include:
- Active eye infection
- Active intraocular infection
- Uncontrolled, chronic, or severe inflammation of the eye
- Abnormally small eye size
- Untreated vision-threatening eye disorder (for example, retinal detachment or chronic glaucoma)
- Diseases that cause abnormal blood vessels to grow on the iris
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy
- Stargardt's retinopathy
Prior to the procedure, extremely detailed photographs will be taken of the patient’s unaffected iris. These photographs are used by the manufacturer of the CustomFlex iris to ensure they duplicate the iris’s appearance as closely as possible. If both of the patient's irises are affected, the patient can choose the appearance of his or her prostheses.
Surgery to place a CustomFlex iris is performed at the St. James Surgery Center in Warwick, RI. On the day of the procedure, the patient is given a local anesthetic to maximize comfort. A device is placed over the eye to keep the patient from blinking or moving, and a tiny incision is made. The artificial iris is very flexible and thin, and it can be rolled up to be inserted through the tiny incision. When it is in place, the surgeon will unroll it and smooth it out flat. Depending on the condition of the eye, the iris may be sutured into place or could be held in place by natural structures. The length of the surgery will depend on whether the patient is having one or both eyes treated or any other procedures done at the same time, such as a lens or cornea transplant.
It is very important that patients closely follow all of the aftercare instructions they are given after surgery. After an artificial iris insertion, these will most likely include sleeping in an upright position for a few nights and prescription antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops. Following any eye surgery at Koch Eye Associates, we always schedule a follow-up appointment the next day and at least one more about a week after the surgery. Patients should be sure to attend the follow-up visits so we can monitor their healing and how the eye is adapting to the new iris. Most patients who undergo this procedure experience better vision and significant relief from light sensitivity and self-consciousness in the early weeks following the surgery.
"I first went to Koch Eye many years ago after being referred there for a follow up appointment after being treated at the emergency room for an eye injury, That was the only time I actually saw Dr. Koch himself (who was very nice by the way) It is only in the last few years (since my old lady eyes have begun to need reading glasses) that I have come in regularly for my eye exam and glasses prescription. I never have any problem with wait time because there are several optometrists. Really the only thing I am not crazy about is their hours. I wish it was possible to get an evening appointment or that there was an occasional Saturday. The office staff is pleasant and courteous"- I.C. / Yelp / May 09, 2019
"Kathy and Zach at Koch Vision Store are just terrific; very knowledgeable about selections and have great recommendations when one is considering lenses/frames."- J.M. / Google / Nov 22, 2019
"I had been going to Vision World/ Works for the last 20 years for eye exams, glasses, contacts. When I was last seen a few years ago I was told my eyes had weakened and I needed -6.0 in my left eye and -5.0 in my right, a substantial increase from -4.75 left and -3.75 right two years before. Needless to say I experienced hyperopia and needed readers for the first time. I wasn't able to read labels, see my phone, or use a laptop without readers of at least +2.5. I was recentl...y seen by Dr Besen at Koch Eye who prescribed contacts of -5.25 left and -4.25 right. I'm absolutely certain that Vision World had me in lenses that were too strong because now I can see my laptop without readers, and I can see my phone if I hold it at arms length. Not only can I see better (for distance as well as close up), but the entire experience of walking into Koch, being greeted by reception, having a preliminary exam by the optician assistants, receiving a full eye exam by the optometrist, being properly fitted for glasses by the optician, and checking out with reception, is exponentially superior with Koch. Clearly the entire staff enjoy their careers, and are friendly, professional, and completely competent. Thank you, Koch Eye Associates! I will recommend you to everyone I know. Sincerely, Kate Carroll"- K.C. / Facebook / Nov 13, 2019
"Everyone is always completely professional and so friendly and accommodating. Thank you Danielle, Nancy, Janine, Catherine, Jess and Dr. Fantoni! Highly recommend!"- J.M. / Google / Sep 13, 2019
"Koch Eye Associates saved my vacation. I was here from out of town and ripped my last contact lens. I was lucky I had my prescription with me and they had my lens in stock. In less than 20 minutes, I had a brand new lens and was on my way! Thank you Koch Associates for saving me from a very long ride home with only1 contact lens in my eyes. Very courteous friendly staff who were willing to listen and help and save my day!"- L.M. / Google / Aug 16, 2019
relief from aniridia
Aniridia and other iris trauma can cause vision impairment and significant discomfort to patients, affecting daily functioning and quality of life. At Koch Eye Associates, we are proud to be able to provide these patients with relief from their symptoms and get them back to living their best lives. If you would like more information or think you might be a candidate for a CustomFlex artificial iris, contact us today. We will schedule a consultation with you at your nearest convenient Rhode Island facility.