Maximizing Your Vision:

A Complete Guide to ICL Surgery Benefits and Risks










Maximizing Your Vision:

A Complete Guide to ICL Surgery Benefits and Risks

If myopia or astigmatism has you searching for a vision correction solution, ICL surgery presents an innovative option where a Collamer lens is implanted to enhance your sight. This comprehensive guide will walk you through every aspect of the procedure, including its advantages for those with high prescriptions or unsuitability for LASIK, alongside potential risks to consider before deciding. Gain clarity on whether ICL surgery fits your vision needs.

Key Takeaways

  • ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens) surgery is a LASIK alternative, suitable for patients with moderate to severe myopia or those unsuitable for laser corrective surgeries.

  • Being between the ages of 21 and 45 with a stable prescription makes you a potential candidate for ICL surgery. Unlike LASIK and PRK, ICL does not require a minimum corneal thickness, making it accessible to individuals with thin corneas or irregular corneal shapes.

  • ICL surgery, though costly (ranging from $4,000 to $7,000 per eye), offers a maintenance-free, biocompatible vision correction solution with the potential to correct both nearsightedness and astigmatism. It’s not typically covered by insurance, but financing options are available.

Understanding ICL Surgery

Patient during the ICL surgery process

ICL vision surgery is a specialized procedure offering a fresh approach to vision correction. Instead of reshaping the cornea like LASIK or PRK, this procedure involves implanting a biocompatible Collamer® lens into the eye. This lens works in harmony with the eye’s natural optics to enhance your vision, providing a unique solution for those seeking freedom from glasses or contacts.

The adaptability of ICL surgery is its standout feature. It caters well to patients with moderate to severe myopia and those with thin corneas or necessitating larger corrections, for whom LASIK and PRK may prove unsuitable. ICL surgery amplifies vision by implanting a lens inside the eye, preserving the eye’s natural structure instead of reshaping the cornea.

The Role of Implantable Collamer Lenses


The Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) is at the center of surgery implantable collamer lens. It is a key component of the procedure. These lenses offer a long-term, yet reversible solution for refractive issues like myopia and astigmatism. Crafted to be inserted into the eye, these lenses are composed of a biocompatible substance called collamer, a fusion of polymer and collagen. Think of them as permanent contact lenses, providing a more permanent solution for vision correction without the daily hassle of cleaning or maintenance.

The magic begins once these lenses are surgically placed between the iris and the eye’s natural lens. They correct refractive errors by focusing light accurately on the retina, improving vision. Thus, these implantable lenses, working from within the eye, offer more reliable and steady vision correction than standard contact lenses that sit on the eye’s surface.

How ICL Surgery Differs from LASIK and PRK


While LASIK, PRK, and ICL all aim to correct vision through corneal refractive surgery, their methods differ greatly. LASIK and PRK involve reshaping the cornea using a laser. This laser eye surgery, although effective, may not be suitable for everyone. ICL surgery, on the other hand, takes a different approach. It involves the implantation of a lens inside the eye without altering the corneal tissue, making it a viable alternative for certain patients.

Furthermore, ICL surgery outshines LASIK and PRK when it comes to treating high prescriptions. Its ability to correct moderate to severe nearsightedness without reshaping the cornea makes it a suitable alternative for those with high prescriptions, thin or irregular corneas, or dry eye syndrome. So, if you’ve been turned away from LASIK or PRK, don’t lose hope. ICL surgery might just be the vision correction solution you’ve been searching for.

Evaluating Your Candidacy for ICL Surgery

Photo of eye examination

Having delved into the details of ICL surgery, you may be considering if you’re a fit candidate for the procedure. Encouragingly, ICL surgery caters to a broad spectrum of individuals. The main eligibility criteria are being aged between 21 and 45 and possessing a stable prescription. Moreover, ICL surgery does not necessitate a minimum corneal thickness, unlike LASIK and PRK, making it accessible to those previously deemed unsuitable for refractive surgery.

However, the shape of the cornea does play a role in determining candidacy for ICL surgery. Certain criteria related to the shape and anterior angle of the eyes must be met to ensure a secure fit for the artificial lens (ICL). So, it’s not solely about age and prescription, your eye’s unique anatomy plays a crucial role too!

Age and Prescription Requirements


Your age and prescription play a significant role in determining your suitability for ICL surgery. The procedure is ideal for individuals between the ages of 21 and 45 looking to improve their eye health and vision. It’s during this age range that prescriptions typically stabilize, which is crucial to ensure accurate measurement and optimal results for the procedure.

Even if you’re not a candidate for LASIK or PRK due to a thin cornea or other reasons, you may still qualify for ICL surgery. Individuals with prescriptions that fall outside the range suitable for LASIK or PRK, such as those ranging from -3.00 to -20.00 diopters, can be excellent candidates for ICL surgery.

Furthermore, it’s a viable option for individuals with high levels of refractive errors. So, if you’ve been turned away from LASIK, PRK, or laser vision correction surgery, ICL surgery might be the vision correction solution you’ve been looking for.

Corneal Thickness and Shape


While LASIK requires a minimum corneal thickness, ICL surgery does not have such a requirement. Individuals with thin corneas may find ICL surgery to be a suitable option due to its effectiveness. The procedure can provide a safe and reliable solution for those with this specific condition. So, if you’ve been turned away from LASIK due to thin corneas, ICL could be your ticket to clearer vision.

The shape of your cornea also plays a critical role in determining your suitability for ICL surgery. However, rather than focusing on the thickness of the cornea, ICL surgery is more concerned with ensuring a secure fit for the implanted lens.

Interestingly, individuals with keratoconus can also benefit from ICL surgery, with certain ICL lenses having demonstrated successful correction of moderate to severe keratoconus.

The ICL Surgery Process: From Preparation to Recovery


The path to enhanced vision entails a thorough grasp of the entire process, from pre-surgery prep to post-surgery recovery. Prior to your ICL surgery, plan for a three-hour visit to the clinic. It’s advisable to shower and clean your hair on the surgery day, since you must avoid eye contact with water for several days post-surgery.

Following the surgery, you’ll embark on the road to recovery. This involves adhering to your ophthalmologist’s directives regarding medications and eye drops, and protecting your eyes with an eye shield. The recovery phase typically involves around four weeks of recuperation. While it may seem like a long journey, the payoff of clearer, sharper vision makes it all worth it!

Pre-Operative Preparation


Before you set foot in the operating room, there are a few key steps to prepare for ICL surgery. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam, including imaging and diagnostic testing, to assess your candidacy for the surgery.

2. Take care of personal hygiene measures, such as taking a shower, washing your hair, and trimming your nails.

3. On the day of the procedure, abstain from wearing makeup, perfume, or cologne.

It’s recommended to shower and wash your hair on the day of the surgery because you’ll need to avoid water contact with your eyes for several days after the procedure. All these measures are necessary to ensure your safety and the success of the procedure.

The Surgical Procedure

Photo of ICL surgical procedure

Now, let’s delve into the surgical procedure itself. ICL surgery typically lasts 20 to 30 minutes and involves the following steps:

1. Use of mild topical or local anesthetic.

2. A small incision is made in the cornea to insert the collamer lens into the eye, positioning it between the iris and the natural lens.

3. This procedure requires precision and skill, which is why it is performed by a specialist eye surgeon such as Dr. Jonathan Solomon.

While the idea of surgery can be daunting, rest assured that ICL surgery is performed with the utmost care and precision done in our . The essential tools used in the procedure are all designed to ensure the safety and success of your surgery.

Post-Operative Recovery and Follow-Up Care

After your ICL surgery, you’ll begin the recovery process. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Most patients experience restored vision to 70% to 80% within the initial day after surgery.
  • Substantial vision enhancement will progress over the course of several days to weeks.
  • Complete post-operative vision recovery is typically achieved within six months.

Follow-up appointments are crucial for monitoring your recovery and are usually scheduled for the day after the surgery, one week later, one month later, and six months later. During the recovery period, you’ll be advised to refrain from engaging in strenuous activities and avoid any contact with the eyes for approximately one week. Activities such as swimming or intense exercise should be avoided for a minimum of two weeks to promote optimal healing.

Remember, your new vision is worth the wait!

Advantages of ICL Surgery

Photo of patient getting her improved vision checked after ICL surgery

If you’re still reading, you’re likely curious about the advantages of ICL surgery. It provides substantial improvements in vision and overall life quality for appropriate candidates. In addition, ICL implants can correct both nearsightedness and astigmatism, potentially eliminating the need for several pairs of glasses or contact lenses without having to disturb or remove corneal tissue. It has the added benefit of potentially being removed at a later date.

After your ICL surgery, you can generally expect:

  • A restoration of normal visual function within 24 hours

  • Any variations in vision to resolve within the initial months

  • A consistent visual outcome, providing you with the stability of vision you’ve been craving.

Vision Improvement and Stability


ICL eye surgery offers improved vision for individuals with moderate to severe nearsightedness. By accurately addressing your refractive error, ICL surgery results in clear and precise vision, so you can experience the world in high-definition.

Moreover, ICL surgery is known for its rapid recovery and remarkable durability, providing long-lasting excellent vision. Research suggests that ICL offers superior outcomes when compared to other refractive procedures, and patients can anticipate long-term vision stability. So, if you’ve been longing for a stable, clear vision, ICL surgery could be your answer.

Biocompatibility and Maintenance-Free Benefits


The use of biocompatible material in ICL surgery is crucial to mitigate complications and facilitate the adequate delivery of oxygen to the tissues. The ICLs are made of collamer, a substance composed of purified collagen, which enables it to be perceived as a natural substance by the body, decreasing the likelihood of rejection.

In addition to being biocompatible, ICL surgery is also maintenance-free. The implanted lens minimizes the risk of rejection by the body and provides UV protection, allowing you to enjoy your new vision without the worry of maintenance or complications.

Potential Risks and Complications of ICL Surgery


Despite the numerous advantages of ICL surgery, potential risks and complications should not be overlooked. Infections post-ICL surgery are relatively rare, with an incidence of about 1 in 6,000 cases. Nevertheless, if an infection arises, symptoms may include:

  • Redness

  • Pain

  • Eye discharge

  • Fever

Inflammation following ICL surgery can also occur, but it can be managed through a steroid tapering regimen. The surgeon often applies antibiotics and topical steroids during the post-operative period to prevent inflammation. While these risks might sound daunting, remember that they are relatively rare, and your surgeon will take every precaution to prevent them.

Infection and Inflammation

Illustration of post-operative care

The risk of infection or inflammation after ICL surgery is relatively low, with the rate of endophthalmitis being approximately 1 in 6000. This is why it’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions, including taking prescribed medications and using eye drops as directed.

While the implantation of the ICL does not lead to a persistent inflammatory reaction within the eye, non-infectious inflammation, referred to as TASS, may occur subsequent to any anterior segment surgery. Rest assured, your surgeon will provide you with the necessary medications and guidance to manage any potential inflammation.

Vision Changes and Additional Procedures


After your ICL surgery, you might experience some vision changes. These include:

  • Undercorrection

  • Increased eye pressure

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Eye discomfort

  • Glare from lights in low light conditions

  • Blurred vision

  • Meibomian gland dysfunction

  • Dry eyes

However, these changes typically stabilize and show improvement within the initial few months after the procedure.

While it’s uncommon, you may need additional procedures after ICL surgery. The overall incidence is quite low, at 0.21%. This includes specific incidences of ICL realignment or exchange. However, the need for additional procedures should not deter you from considering ICL surgery, as the benefits often outweigh the potential risks.

Cost and Insurance Considerations


Like any medical procedure, considering the cost is vital when contemplating ICL surgery. The typical cost for ICL surgery in the United States is between $4,000 and $7,000 per eye, usually surpassing the cost of LASIK. Although it may appear as a substantial investment, remember that it’s a lifetime investment in enhanced vision.

Unfortunately, ICL surgery is typically not covered by health insurance, as it is often categorized as elective or cosmetic surgery. However, you shouldn’t let this deter you from pursuing ICL surgery. Some options to consider for managing the cost of ICL surgery include:

  • Checking if your discount vision plan provides partial coverage for this procedure

  • Exploring financing options specifically designed for medical procedures

  • Inquiring about payment plans offered by the clinic or surgeon

At most facilities, in addition to these expenses there are fees associated with the consultation, testing, intraocular lens, surgeon’s fee, anesthesiologist, preoperative clearance, pre- and post-operative medications, facility fees, and any necessary touch-ups. In our state of the art in-house surgical suite there is no need for facility fees anesthesiologist or clearances. All of this is handled in house at Holzman Laser Vision and is unnecessary typically for most patients in our surgical suite.

To provide clarity and peace of mind regarding costs, we offer our patients a flat fee of $11,000 for both eyes, encompassing all aforementioned services along with a lifetime guarantee.


Comparing ICL Surgery Costs to Other Refractive Surgeries


When compared to other refractive surgeries, ICL surgery generally falls at the upper end of the cost spectrum. Specifically, it’s more costly than LASIK surgery, which ranges between $1,000 and $4,000 per eye, and PRK surgery, which ranges from $1,750 to $3,000 per eye. The higher cost of ICL surgery can be attributed to the use of implantable contact lenses, which provide additional benefits such as UV protection and the ability to correct higher levels of nearsightedness.

Additionally, several factors can contribute to the overall cost of ICL surgery, including:

  • The type of intraocular lens (IOL) utilized

  • The geographical location of the surgeon

  • The surgeon’s level of proficiency

  • Specific treatment protocols

  • The availability of financing options

Keep these factors in mind when considering the cost of ICL surgery.


Insurance Coverage and Financing Options


Since ICL surgery is not covered by most general and vision insurance plans, you may need to explore other options to manage the cost. The good news is, there are flexible payment plans available through many eye doctors. Additionally, financing options with low monthly payments spread over time, such as CareCredit, can help you manage the cost of the procedure.

While the upfront cost of ICL surgery may seem daunting, remember that it’s an investment in your vision. With careful planning and the right financing options, you can manage the cost and enjoy the benefits of clearer vision for years to come.



Navigating the world of vision correction surgeries can be overwhelming. However, ICL surgery offers a promising solution for those seeking a long-term. While ICL surgery comes with its own set of considerations, such as cost, candidacy, and potential risks, its benefits, including vision improvement, stability, and biocompatibility, make it a worthwhile option. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can embark on your journey towards clearer vision with confidence. Here’s to a brighter, sharper future!

Frequently Asked Questions


What is better ICL or LASIK?


ICL may be a better option than LASIK as it offers UV protection, produces better night vision results, and can correct more severe prescriptions. It also offers the benefit of being a reversible procedure, if necessary.

What are the downsides of ICL surgery?


ICL surgery can pose a risk of increased intraocular pressure, which may lead to glaucoma and vision loss if the ICL is improperly placed or takes up too much space within the eye.

How long does ICL last for?


ICLs are designed to last for the rest of your life, with a lifespan of approximately 100 years. This makes them a long-term vision correction option with the advantage of being removable if needed.

How much does ICL cost?


The cost of ICL in the USA typically ranges from $4,000 to $7,000 per eye, but can vary based on factors such as location, clinic, surgeon, and specific case details.

How does ICL surgery differ from LASIK and PRK?


ICL surgery differs from LASIK and PRK by involving the implantation of a lens inside the eye to correct vision, making it a suitable option for individuals with specific eye conditions or needs.