Implantable Contact Lens

The Safety and Risks of ICL Surgery

Key Takeaways

SafetyICL surgery is generally considered safe, with a high success rate for vision correction.
RisksPotential risks include vision loss, cataracts, glaucoma, and eye infections, among others.
CostPotential risks include vision loss, cataracts, glaucoma, and eye infections.
Insurance CoverageICL surgery is often considered elective and may not be covered by insurance.
Recovery TimeQuick recovery, usually with improved vision within 2-3 days and full recovery in 3-4 weeks.

What is ICL Eye Surgery?

Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) surgery, also known as Visian ICL surgery or implantable contact lens surgery, is a procedure designed to correct vision, specifically addressing myopia (shortsightedness) and astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea).

It involves placing a soft, collamer-based lens between the iris and the eye’s natural lens, acting like a permanent contact lens to focus light on the retina【source】.

ICL is a viable alternative to LASIK surgery, particularly for patients with severe nearsightedness or those who are not good candidates for LASIK due to dry eyes, irregular corneas, or prescriptions outside the acceptable range for LASIK【source】.

Ideal Candidates for ICL Surgery

A good candidate for ICL surgery typically has the following characteristics:

  • Age between 21 and 45 years.
  • Short-sighted patients can be aged up to 60.
  • In good general health.
  • Meets the minimum endothelial cell density for their age.
  • Has moderate to severe myopia (-3 diopters to -20 diopters).
  • Has minor to no astigmatism.
  • Good eye health and not taking medications that can interfere with surgery or healing.
  • Stable vision correction prescriptions for at least six months to a year.
  • Not pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Not allergic to local anaesthesia.

The Procedure

ICL surgery is outpatient, meaning patients can go home the same day. The steps involve a comprehensive eye exam and specific instructions for pre-surgery preparation.

The surgery includes placing the ICL between the iris and the natural lens, followed by post-operative care instructions【source】.

Implantable Contact Lens

Benefits of ICL Surgery

The benefits of ICL surgery are significant, offering high-quality vision correction, quick recovery, stable and predictable results, reversible options, and corneal preservation.

ICL results

Over 94% of patients achieve 20/20 vision or better without needing glasses or contact lenses post-surgery【source】.

swimming with ICL

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Risks and Side Effects of ICL Surgery

While ICL surgery is a safe and effective procedure, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks and side effects. Serious but rare complications can include vision loss, retinal detachment, excessive bleeding, eye infections, and early cataracts.

Common ICL surgery side effects include:

  • Temporary glare
  • Halos
  • Dry eyes
  • Discomfort
  • Misty vision
  • Inflammation
  • Raised eye pressure

Monitoring and Prevention of Complications

Surgeons closely monitor patients during the recovery and healing process to protect against severe complications such as vision loss due to glaucoma or cataracts.

Regular follow-up appointments are essential for the early detection and management of any issues【source】.

Cost and Insurance Considerations for ICL Surgery

The cost of ICL surgery typically ranges between $4,000 to $5,000 per eye but can vary depending on location, technology, and other services included in the package.

Some surgeons offer all-inclusive packages, which might increase the overall cost.

It’s important to note that ICL surgery is generally considered elective and is unlikely to be covered by insurance. Patients should discuss costs and insurance coverage with their surgeon.

The Importance of Choosing a Qualified Surgeon

Selecting a highly qualified surgeon is crucial for the success of ICL surgery. Patients should research surgeons’ qualifications, experience, and track records. For more on choosing the right surgeon, visit our About Me page.

Comparing ICL Surgery to Other Refractive Surgeries

ICL is often compared to other refractive surgeries like LASIK and PRK. Each procedure has unique benefits and is suitable for different types of vision problems and patient needs.

For example, ICL is preferred for patients with severe myopia or those who are not suitable candidates for LASIK. Learn more about the differences between these procedures on our Treatments page.

ICL design

Alternatives to ICL Surgery

Patients who may not be ideal candidates for ICL have other options, such as LASIK, PRK, or Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE). Each of these procedures offers different advantages and suits different visual impairments.

Preparing for ICL Surgery

Proper preparation is essential for the success of ICL surgery. Here are key steps to prepare for the procedure:

  1. Comprehensive Eye Exam: A week before the procedure, a comprehensive eye exam is conducted to ensure suitability for the surgery. This includes pupil and corneal evaluation and endothelial cell count.
  2. Medication and Health Review: Inform your doctor about any medications, previous surgeries, medical conditions, or allergies. It’s also important to discuss eating or drinking restrictions before surgery.
  3. Transportation Arrangements: Since driving post-surgery is not recommended, arrange reliable transportation for both to and from the surgery.
  4. Aquaport holes in the newer ICL designs mean a YAG iridotomy (laser-made holes in the iris) is no longer needed.

For more information on preparing for ICL surgery, visit our ICL surgery page.

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Post-Surgery Care and Recovery

Following the ICL surgery, it’s crucial to adhere to post-operative care instructions to ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Avoid Eye Strain: Rest your eyes and avoid rubbing them for 3 to 5 days post-surgery.
  • Follow Medication Instructions: Take prescribed medication, such as antibiotics, to ease pain and discomfort.
  • Limit Physical Activities: Avoid strenuous activities like weightlifting or contact sports immediately after surgery.
  • Regular Follow-Up Appointments: Attend follow-up appointments for close monitoring and proper wound healing.

Improved vision is typically noticeable within 2-3 days, with full recovery expected in 3-4 weeks. If you experience severe eye pain or sudden vision changes, contact your doctor immediately【33†source】.

Long-Term Considerations

The results of ICL surgery are generally stable and long-lasting. However, it’s essential for patients to maintain regular eye check-ups to monitor their eye health. Sometimes, the lens may need to be replaced or adjusted over time.

Frequently Asked Questions About ICLs

1. What is ICL surgery?

ICL surgery, also known as phakic intraocular lens (IOL) surgery, is a refractive surgery that involves implanting a thin, flexible lens between the iris and the eye’s natural lens. This lens helps to correct vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

2. Who is a good candidate for ICL surgery?

ICL surgery is a good option for people who:

  • Have a prescription that is too strong or too complex for LASIK or PRK
  • Have thin corneas that are not good candidates for LASIK or PRK
  • Are not good candidates for other types of refractive surgery, such as cataracts or RLE surgery

3. How is ICL surgery performed?

ICL surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure takes about 30 minutes per eye. The surgeon will make a small incision in the cornea during the procedure and insert the ICL. The incision will then heal on its own.

4. What is the recovery time for ICL surgery?

Most people experience some mild discomfort and blurry vision after ICL surgery. This is typically normal and will subside within a few days. Most people can return to their normal activities within a day or two.

5. What are the risks of ICL surgery?

ICL surgery is a safe and effective procedure, but there are some potential risks, including:

  • Infection
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal detachment

6. How long do ICLs last?

ICLs are designed to last for a lifetime. However, they may need to be replaced if they become cloudy or if your vision changes significantly.

7. Can I drive after ICL surgery?

Most people can drive after ICL surgery within a day or two. However, it is essential to follow your doctor’s instructions and wear sunglasses when driving for the first few days.

8. Do I need to wear glasses or contacts after ICL surgery?

Most people do not need to wear glasses or contacts after ICL surgery. However, some people may need to wear reading glasses for near vision.

9. What is the cost of ICL surgery?

ICL surgery costs vary depending on the surgeon, the clinic, and the patient’s needs. However, it is typically more expensive than LASIK or PRK.

10. What are the benefits of ICL surgery?

ICL surgery offers several benefits, including:

  • Excellent vision correction
  • Long-lasting results
  • No need to wear glasses or contacts
  • Safe and effective procedure

Additional Resources

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