Vision Blog > Pros and Cons of the Implantable Contact Lens (Visian ICL)
by Dougherty Laser Vision
The Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL), or implantable contact lens as it is commonly called, is similar to a regular external contact lens. The key difference is that the ICL is placed inside the eye as opposed to on the outer surface.
The ICL does not replace the eye’s natural lens but is specially shaped to work with it to correct vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The lens is implanted behind the iris and in front of the natural eye lens. Once it is implanted, it becomes completely invisible, and you won’t even be able to feel it in your eye.
ICL surgery is often used as an alternative to LASIK eye surgery. If the patient exhibits any of the following, an eye surgeon may conclude that they are not a good candidate for laser eye surgery:
- Extreme myopia with a shallow anterior chamber, for which the Visian Toric ICL is a better option
- Abnormal corneas
- A predisposition to dry eye syndrome
In these cases, ICL surgery can help restore perfect vision without the need for refractive surgery. Below, we’ll discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of the ICL and help to understand who would best benefit from this procedure.
- Superb Visual Quality – Because the eye maintains a natural corneal shape with ICL, the quality of vision is excellent, particularly at high degrees of prescription. As a result, night vision can be better than with other procedures.
- No Dry Eyes – Because corneal nerves are not disrupted during ICL implantation, the surgery does not produce dry eyes, and you won’t need to use eye drops to maintain your eye comfort.
- Good for Patients Ineligible for LASIK – Thin or irregular corneas, dry eye syndrome, very high prescriptions, or large pupils can disqualify someone from LASIK or refractive surgery. An ICL is a great alternative that is unaffected by these issues.
- They’re Biocompatible – The soft and flexible ICL is made from a bio-material called collamer made with purified collagen. Because of this, the ICL will not be rejected by the body as a foreign element or cause a reaction while inside the eye.
- Maintenance Free – There’s no disinfecting, cleaning, or daily removal. The ICL is intended to stay in place and last indefinitely. You have no need for reading glasses or contact lenses anymore and can live worry-free when it comes to your vision quality.
- Completely Reversible – Should the need arise, the ICL can be removed or replaced. This means that ICL patients have much more flexibility with respect to candidacy for future vision correction procedures than LASIK patients.
- Minimally Invasive – An ICL procedure takes very little time (as little as seven minutes) and has minimal downtime afterward. It is recommended that patients not drive for one or two days. Because of the ICL’s small size and material, it can be folded up, inserted, and set into place through an incision smaller than that of LASIK, and it does not require tissue removal.
- Long-Term Use – With over 20 years and over 800,000 successful procedures since FDA approval in 2005, the Implantable Contact Lens has become a viable alternative in the world of vision correction surgery. Patients typically enjoy quick vision improvement without being aware that the ICL is even there.
- Cosmetic Procedure – Like LASIK, the ICL is considered a cosmetic procedure and will likely not be covered under most insurance plans. An ICL is typically more expensive per eye than LASIK since the implants are custom-made for each individual patient.
- Not for Everyone – Use of an ICL is primarily intended for the age group 18-50. Below the age of 18, your prescription and eyes are still changing. Over the age of 50, you are developing dysfunctional natural lenses, and a procedure called Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is more advisable.
- Annual Check-Ups – Although ICL’s are intended to stay in place indefinitely, it is still recommended to have regular annual aftercare appointments to ensure that the implants are in position and functioning properly and to check for premature cataracts, which may require cataract surgery and increased intraocular pressure.
Not only is ICL surgery an excellent alternative if you can’t have LASIK, but the procedure was pioneered in part by Dr. Paul Dougherty himself. He was a principal investigator during the procedure’s FDA clinical study and has performed more than 1,200 ICL surgeries to date.
Will It Work for Me?
The ICL is yet another advanced procedure option for the treatment and improvement of vision. Call or schedule a free consultation online today to learn more about all of the vision correction services available at Dougherty Laser Vision and discover which will work best for your individual needs. Unsure what surgery is right for you? Take our LASIK Self Test!