Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL)
The implantable collamer lens procedure, or ICL for short, differs from cataract surgery in that it is a phakic procedure, meaning the eye’s natural lens is not removed. An ICL is an artificial lens, similar in function to a contact lens, which is implanted in front of the eye’s natural lens, but behind the iris, so that it is practically invisible to outside observers. The ICL procedure corrects moderate to severe myopia (nearsightedness).
This implantable lens is capable of correcting a higher degree of myopia (nearsightedness) than LASIK, and since the procedure does not involve reshaping the cornea through removal of tissue, it can be performed on patients whose corneas are too thin for laser refractive procedures. In addition, recovery is extremely fast and post-operative vision is incredibly sharp. Visian ICL is an outpatient procedure, with most patients seeing well enough to drive by the next day.
Implantable collamer lens – ICL for short – has been an alternative for our Utah vision correction surgery patients for nearly a decade. The STAAR Visian® ICL is often an option for vision correction in patients with thin corneas or who are extremely nearsighted. The Visian® ICL procedure consists of placing a corrective lens, similar to a contact lens, in the eye itself. The ICL lens is implanted in front of the eye’s natural lens, but behind the iris, so that it is invisible to outside observers. The implantable lens is capable of correcting a higher degree of myopia (nearsightedness) than LASIK, and since the procedure does not involve reshaping the cornea through removal of tissue, it can be performed on patients whose corneas are too thin for laser refractive procedures. In addition, recovery is extremely fast and postoperative vision is very sharp. Visian® ICL is an outpatient procedure (the patient returns home the same day), with most patients seeing well enough to drive by the next day.
The first ICl was implanted in 1993 and FDA studies began shortly thereafter in 1997. Dr. Robert Rivera was one of the initial investigators in the FDA trials. There have been over 250,000 ICLs implanted so far, and a new lens is implanted world-wide every seven minutes.
During the ICL procedure no corneal tissue is removed. The lens is inserted through a small 3 mm self-sealing incision where no stitches are needed. The lens is inserted behind the iris, and in front of the natural lens where it cannot be seen or felt. Vision is significantly improved immediately after surgery, and continues to improve over the next few days. Vision is often described as ultra-high definition. As with all surgeries, there is some risk with ICL surgery. Risk can be minimized by selecting an experienced surgeon and the right surgical environment. Your doctor will discuss potential risks and benefits of ICL surgery with you prior to determining candidacy and help you make an informed decision regarding whether or not ICL surgery is right for you.
Are you a candidate for ICL surgery?
Since their introduction in the mid-1990s, LASIK and PRK have helped millions of Americans see better without glasses or contact lenses. Since that time, laser eye surgery technology has constantly progressed, affording better, more consistent results to an ever-broadening range of eligible surgical candidates. However, in spite of all these advances, there is still a significant number of patients who are not good candidates for laser vision correction. Patients with thin or irregularly shaped corneas, extremely high prescriptions, severely dry eyes, or any combination of these factors, may not be suitable patients for LASIK or PRK, but may be able to have the Visian® ICL procedure.
You may be a candidate for ICL eye surgery if you:
- Are over 18 years old with a stable prescription.
- Have moderate to extreme nearsightedness.
- Have healthy eyes without disease or serious ailments.
- Have realistic expectations and are educated and informed about the risks and benefits of ICL surgery and the alternatives.