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ICL surgery ICL surgery

What You Should Know About ICL Vision Surgery 

The implantable Collamer lens, commonly called ICL, is an artificial lens permanently placed in the eye to treat astigmatism, hyperopia (farsightedness), and myopia (nearsightedness). Placing an implantable lens in the eyes requires surgery.  

The implanted artificial lens helps the existing eye lens refract or bend light on the retina to give a clearer vision. ICLs are made of collagen, known as Collamer, and plastic. This lens is a type of phakic intraocular lens. The term phakic means how the surgeon places the lens without removing the natural eye lens. 

Although ICL surgery is not necessary for vision correction, it reduces dependence on contact lenses or glasses. In some cases, patients no longer need these visual aids. ICL surgery is usually a good alternative for patients with high prescriptions who cannot undergo laser eye surgery however can be used for lower prescriptions too and many may choose this option instead of laser eye surgery.

ICL surgery 

Before undergoing ICL surgery, you have to visit an ophthalmologist (Eye doctor). The ophthalmologist will take you through screening scans and tests and examination to make sure you are suitable. 

Your ophthalmologist may also prescribe anti-inflammatory or antibiotic eye drops a couple of days before the ICL surgery but majority only need drops after surgery . 

ICL procedure involves the following. 

  • The surgeon will administer local anaesthesia to numb your eyes to avoid feeling anything during the procedure. They may also administer a mild sedative to aid relaxation and injection around your eyes to temporarily prevent blinking 
  • The eye surgeon will clean your eyes and the areas surrounding them, then hold the eyelids open with a lip speculum 
  • Your eye surgeon will make a tiny incision in the eye and apply a gel like fluid call visco to protect the eye
  • The eye surgeon will insert the ICL through the incision. This lens is thin, so they may fold it to put it in your eye and unfold it afterwards. 
  • The surgeon will remove the eye fluid and seal the incision. 
  • The surgeon will put ointment or eye drops in your eyes and cover them using an eye patch 

This procedure usually takes 20 – 30 minutes, although you may spend few hours for preparation ,eye drops and after care discussion. Your surgeon may prescribe oral medication or eye drops to relieve the discomfort. 

The procedure is an outpatient procedure, but you need someone to drive you home afterwards. A follow-up appointment is necessary on the next day to examine the eyes and check how they are healing. You will also have follow-up appointments one month and three months after your surgery. Regular check-ups once every year are necessary. 

Benefits of ICL surgery 

ICL surgery offers several benefits besides improved vision. They include:

  • Correcting nearsightedness that other eye procedures cannot correct
  • Reduced risk of dry eyes, making it suitable for people with dry eyes 
  • Permanent treatment option, but reversible 
  • Improved night vision 
  • Fast recovery because it doesn’t involve removing tissues 
  • Suitable for some patients who aren’t good candidates for laser eye surgery 

Risks of ICL surgery 

Although ICL is safe, it is expensive may result in the following complications in rare occasions. 

  • Raised eye pressure 

The implant can reduce fluid turn over and cause raised eye pressure this is a rare complication with modern ICL with central port.  surgeon can always remove the ICL in rare occasions if pressure dose not stabilise by time

  • Early cataracts 

ICLs reduce fluid circulation in the eye, increasing the risk of touching the natural lens and developing cataracts. Reduced fluid circulation leading to cataracts may also occur if the artificial lens isn’t fitted properly and may cause chronic inflammation. 

  • Cloudy vision

ICL surgery, in addition to ageing, mayreduces the cornea’s endothelial cells. If the cells reduce rapidly, you may have a cloudy cornea and blurry vision  


ICL eye surgery is unsafe for some people. If you want to undergo ICL surgery, ensure you consult your doctor to know if the procedure is suitable. The procedure may be unsuitable for:

  • Breastfeeding or pregnant patients 
  • People below 21 years 
  • People above 60 years 
  • Very small eyes
  • People with chronic conditions that make hormone levels fluctuate 
  • People taking medications that affect vision 
  • People with conditions that prevent proper healing of wounds 
  • People without the minimum endothelial cell count in their cornea 

Before ICL surgery, taking other precautions is also important. For instance, you need to stop wearing contact lenses few days before the procedure. 

LASIK vs ICL surgery 

LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses) is an eye surgery used to correct farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism, like ICL surgery. However, LASIK involves correcting vision problems with a laser instead of implanting a permanent lens. 

During LASIK, the surgeon will use a laser to reshape the outer layer of the eye called Cornea. The correction allows light to redirect on the back of the eye called retina for better vision. After the surgery. This procedure doesn’t require stitches 

The laser vision correction and LASIK requires patients to have regular and sufficient cornea size. Hence, people with irregular or thin cornea may not be good candidates for the LASIK procedure but can undergo alternative options one is ICL surgery to improve their vision. AS ICL is a reversible procedure , many may choose this option even if suitable for laser vision correction. You need to speak to an eye specialist for suitability and available options.

You can reduce dependence on contact lenses or glasses by undergoing ICL surgery. Book an appointment today at Optimal Vision for a consultation before your ICL surgery. You can call us on 020 7183 3725 to schedule a consultation with our experience team. 

Dr Amir Mani - Specialist refractive surgeon

One of the most experienced refractive surgeons in London

Dr Mani has performed more than 20,000 ophthalmic procedures, including LASIK, LASEK, PRK, Femto Cataract, RLE, Lens ICL and Phakic IOL Surgery

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