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What is ICL? (Implantable Corrective Lens)

ICL is an implantable corrective lens that is inserted into the eye by an ophthalmologist through a small incision on the cornea (the front clear surface of the eye).  The lens is positioned between the iris and the natural lens of the eye where it stays indefinitely.  The procedure is performed on an out-patient basis and only takes about fifteen (15) minutes.

ICLThe ICL is made of Collamer, an advanced lens material.  Collamer transmits light and reduces reflections that can interfere with vision, so you see clearly.  Made of copolymer and collagen, Collamer is also highly biocompatible.  Collamer is the only lens material made with collagen - the best choice for a lens that is going to remain inside your body for a lifetime.  And don't worry!  You cannot see the ICL in your eye and neither can anybody else.

The ICL offers unparalleled quality of vision, providing excellent contrast.  Two unique factors are: 1.) The ICL is made of Collamer, making the lens extremely biocompatible for a lifetime of clear vision.  2.) The ICL is placed inside the eye, where it continues to focus light accurately without any maintenance required.  And since the ICL does not alter any structures within the eye or on the cornea, it can be removed from the eye by a simple surgical procedure.  Yes, it's reversible!

A good candidate for the ICL would include (but is not limited to) anyone that:

  • Is over the age of 21
  • Has a stable refractive error with no significant changes over the past year
  • Is moderately to highly myopic (nearsighted)
  • Has been told their corneas are too thin for LASIK (ICL does not have any effect on the cornea)
  • Has been told they have dry eyes (ICL does not cause or contribute to dry eyes)
  • Does not have a previous history of ophthalmic disease such as glaucoma, iritis, or diabetic retinopathy.

ICL Procedure


When you have been identified as a good candidate for ICL, the first step is to have a YAG (P)eripheral (I)ridotomy.  This is a laser procedure that creates a small opening in the colored part of your eye (iris) to allow fluid to pass between the lens and the front chamber of the eye.  This procedure is painless and only takes a few minutes.  We will do the YAG PI right here in our office one to two weeks before your actual ICL procedure.

The actual ICL procedure only takes about fifteen (15) minutes.  You are given a light sedative to help you relax during the procedure, and topical anesthetic eye drops are used to numb your eye.  Then, a small microscopic incision is made where the white part of your eye (conjunctiva) meets the colored part (iris).  A gel-like substance is injected into your eye and the ICL is then folded and inserted through the small incision.  The ICL is then positioned behind the iris and in front of the natural lens of your eye, and the gel is removed from your eye.  That's all there is to it!  And, because the incision is so small, no stitches or sutures have to be used.  So you are able to return to your normal routine immediately.  Also, very little to no discomfort is associated with this procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Since this is a new procedure, what is the track record of the ICL?  

Extensive research and development preceded the introduction of the ICL.  It is now being used by more than 50,000 patients world-wide!  The satisfaction rate among patients is extremely high - above 99% (FDA clinical trial). 

What if my vision changes after I have the ICL inserted?

The ICL offers treatment flexibility. If your vision changes dramatically, the ICL can be removed and replaced, or another procedure can be performed at any time. With ICL, you can wear glasses or contact lenses if necessary. ICL does not presently help presbyopia (difficulty with reading in people over 40) but you can add reading glasses if needed.

Can the ICL dry out or get dirty like a contact lens? 

No. The ICL avoids problems experienced with traditional contact lenses. It is designed to remain in place inside your eye, without maintenance. A routine, annual visit with your eye doctor is recommended to make sure everything is fine.

How long does the ICL stay in my eye?

The ICL is intended to remain in place in the eye without maintenance.  Therefore, indefinitely. However, if necessary, the ICL could be removed by a certified ophthalmologist.

Is ICL better than LASIK?

You decide. LASIK is definitely a very popular form of vision correction today. Vision returns quickly and there is limited discomfort, so of course it is an appealing option to most people.  But LASIK involves permanent changes made to your eyes because tissue is removed from the cornea with an excimer laser.  While there are risks and possible complications with any vision correction procedure, ICL is overall a reversible procedure. While the ICL is inserted into the eye with the intent of being permanent, if you simply did not like the ICL, or if there were any complications, the ICL could be removed. 

If you've been told that you are not a LASIK candidate due to thin corneas, then the ICL is still an option since it does not effect the cornea. Dry eyes are also not a concern with ICL, but increased dryness can certainly be an issue following LASIK.

In conclusion, technology today presents us with many options. We certainly encourage every individual contemplating vision correction to carefully research any procedure they are considering.  As stated above, all vision correction procedures carry their own risk. Medicine is not an exact science, and surgeons and patients are not perfect people. Have a realistic attitude and be willing to educate yourself.  After all, your eyes are precious!

Visian ICL video provided by www.STAAR.com.

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