September 1, 2023

How Does ICL Surgery Work?

Also called a phakic intraocular lens because they are inserted without removing the natural lens, an implantable contact lens (ICL) is an alternative to consider if your high prescription or eye health prevents you from laser eye surgery. They’re also called implantable collamer lenses, or ICLs.

Unlike traditional IOLs used in cataract surgery, phakic IOLs are positioned behind the iris while preserving the eye’s natural lens. This makes them a viable option for patients with thin corneas, extreme prescriptions, or other conditions that may disqualify them from other vision correction procedures. 

Phakic IOLs are especially beneficial for individuals who require high levels of vision correction beyond the limits of other available methods.

ICLs represent a remarkable advancement in the field of vision correction, offering an effective solution for individuals who are not suitable candidates for traditional laser eye surgeries like LASIK or PRK. 

ICL implants are designed to be implanted inside the eye, working alongside the eye’s natural lens to correct refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.

Benefits of ICL Eye Surgery

You might be thinking about getting implantable contact lenses for many reasons:

  • If you can’t get laser eye surgery for any reason, intraocular lenses are a viable alternative. For very high prescriptions, ICLs can give better vision.
  • They are versatile and can treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.
  • A minimally invasive surgery that takes 20-30 minutes per eye. No tissue is removed, and any incisions are self-healing.
  • While providing long-term solutions, implantable lenses are removable should you wish or need them removed, e.g. during cataract surgery in later life.
  • Focus Clinics has a #1 TrustPilot rating across the UK for eye treatment clinics.

Overall, ICLs (phakic IOLs) represent a promising option for individuals seeking a permanent solution to their refractive errors. Their ability to provide high levels of vision correction while preserving the eye’s natural structure makes them a valuable alternative for those who may not qualify for or prefer not to undergo traditional laser vision correction techniques.

Are There Any Risks Associated With ICL Surgery?

No eye surgery comes without risk. Phakic intraocular lens (IOL) surgery is generally considered safe and effective for correcting refractive errors in individuals who are not suitable candidates for other types of vision correction surgeries, such as laser eye surgery or PRK.

However, like any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications associated with implantable collamer lenses. Discussing these risks with your eye surgeon and making an informed decision based on your circumstances is important.

Your surgeon at Focus Clinics will explain the specific risks of phakic intraocular lenses to you, some of which may be:

  • Glaucoma (increased pressure within the eye, leading to inflammation and potential vision loss)
  • Cataracts (a small risk exists of cataracts forming adjacent to the new lens, leading to vision impairment and opening the door to later cataract surgery)
  • Retinal detachment (a serious condition where the retina separates from the underlying tissue, requiring immediate medical attention)
  • Corneal endothelial cell damage (the placement of a phakic IOL can potentially cause damage to the corneal endothelial cells, which are responsible for maintaining the cornea’s clarity, leading to corneal swelling and reduced vision)
  • Infections (the risk of infection is very low at 1 in 6,000 cases – infection could lead to inflammation and potential vision loss if not promptly treated)
  • Blurred vision, vision loss, or other persistent vision issues (such as halos, glare, or difficulty with night vision)
  • Additional surgery (such as lens repositioning or replacement, if the phakic IOL does not provide the desired visual outcome)

How Much Does ICL Surgery Cost?

The cost of phakic intraocular lens surgery in the UK can vary based on several factors.

Artificial lens surgery costs in the UK depend on factors such as the type of phakic IOL used, the clinic or hospital you choose, the surgeon’s expertise, pre-operative and post-operative care, and any associated costs.

When considering implantable contact lens surgery or any other medical procedure, it’s essential to research your chosen clinic, read patient reviews, and consult medical professionals to understand the costs involved. 

Additionally, inquire about any potential hidden or additional costs to ensure you have a complete picture of the financial commitment of implantable collamer lenses.

How Does ICL Surgery Work?

ICL surgery is minimally invasive and considered safe. You will have a practitioner to help you every step of the way.

  1. An initial consultation will occur to determine your suitability. Each individual’s eyes and needs are unique, so a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified eyecare professional is crucial to determine if ICL surgery is the right choice for you.
  2. On the day of the surgery, you will be given anaesthetic to numb your eyes. A sedative to help you relax may also be offered.
  3. After cleaning the eyes and surrounding areas, the lids will be held in place with a speculum.
  4. Your surgeon will make a small incision in your eye, through which the ICL will be inserted between the natural lens and the iris. This positioning has replaced earlier designs of ICLs with significantly improved results.
  5. The surgeon ensures the IOL is properly positioned for optimal vision correction. The IOL’s power and design are selected to correct your specific refractive error. It alters how light rays are focused onto the retina, thus improving your vision.
  6. After eye drops or ointment to aid healing, you will be taken to a waiting room and have your eyes covered.
  7. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory eye drops will be given to use after you go home.

The procedure takes 20-30 minutes per eye. There may be some pain afterwards, but a follow-up appointment the next day will be scheduled for you and your surgeon to discuss any queries or issues you may have. These are intended to monitor your healing progress and ensure that the implantable contact lenses function as intended.

Why Choose Focus Clinics for Your Implantable Contact Lenses

Focus Clinics are specialists in outstanding results. For example, we have a unique 100% success rate for 20/20 vision for short-sighted LASIK. This impeccable record is important to us — a 98% success rate is no good if you fall into that unlucky 2%. 

We work hard to ensure that your eyes are healthy, as shown by a 5/5 top rating on TrustPilot. That’s the highest trust rating out of every ‘eye treatment’ clinic.

  • Our patient testimonials speak for themselves. Our only goal is to ensure that you are happy with your vision.
  • Patient-centred care is vital for any kind of eye surgery, including implantable collamer lenses.
  • Advanced technology is something we invest in. Our state-of-the-art equipment can lead to more accurate and successful outcomes for patients.
  • Our experienced surgeons have specialised expertise in performing various vision correction procedures, including implantable collamer lenses. Patients feel more confident undergoing surgery when performed by our experienced professionals.

About the Author

Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.


Get Your Treatment Estimate