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Implantable collamer lens (ICL)

Compare the difference in how you could see the world after ICL surgery at Focus Clinic

Vision requiring Implantable Collamer Lens Example before ICL
Vision after Cataract laser eye treatment Example after ICL
Example after ICL Example before ICL

Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL)

The Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL), sometimes called an implantable contact lens, is an alternative for patients who are not candidates for laser eye surgery because of having a high or extreme prescription.

ICLs may also be called phakic intraocular lenses (phakic IOLs) because they are inserted without removing the natural lens. This is different from cataract surgery or refractive lens exchange, where the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intra-ocular implant.

for refractive errors higher than -8.00 of myopia, an ICL may be an option for you.

ICL is sometimes used to mean an implantable contact lens.

These clear implantable lenses are surgically placed either between the cornea and the iris (the coloured circular diaphragm at the front of your eye) or more commonly just behind the iris, in the space between the iris and the lens. Phakic ICLs enable light to focus properly on the retina at the back of the eye for clearer vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses.


Who is suitable for an Implantable Contact Lens (ICL)?

The most used type of lens is the EVO Visian ICL family of implants. ICLs are reserved for specialist high short-sighted prescriptions when standard laser correction with LASIK or PRK eye surgery is not an option. At Focus Clinic we can treat most short-sighted prescriptions up to -8.00 dioptres with LASIK, due to the advanced laser combination available at our clinic.

Suitability criteria for having an ICL are:

  1. Age range between 21 and 60 years old.
  2. An anterior chamber depth (ACD) of 2.8mm or more (this is the gap between your iris and cornea).
  3. Refractive errors usually higher than -8.00 of myopia.

What is an implantable collamer lens?

The lens itself is made from a very thin bio-compatible material, meaning it does not react when placed inside the eye. The ICL is inserted behind the pupil (so it is not visible to anyone looking in your eye) but lives in front of the eye’s natural lens.


Implantable Collamer Lens

How does an ICL work?

An implantable lens works in a similar way to placing a contact lens on the front of the eye, by providing extra focusing power to correct any refractive error. In this case, though the lens is situated inside the eye rather than floating on the surface.

Because the collamer lens is used in patients with extreme prescriptions, typically -10.00 or higher, patients can see a dramatic increase in their sight almost immediately after the procedure.

Unlike contact lenses, you can’t feel an ICL inside your eye (much as you cannot feel a dental filling). The lens can remain permanently but does require ongoing regular eye health examinations.

implantable collamer lens ICL

The Visian ICL is a popular phakic lens implant

Extreme prescriptions are a significant disability, where such eyes may not be suitable for contact lenses and glasses are overly heavy due to the thickness of the lenses. ICLs can make a tremendous difference to the lives of these patients, as they fall outside the range where LASIK can correct the full prescription.

Are You Eligible for an ICL?

Just as there are eligibility criteria for LASIK, not everyone is a candidate for an ICL. The following points can help you decide if a phakic lens is the right choice for your eyes:

  • Prescription – do you have a high degree of short-sight, typically -8.00 dioptres up to -20.00 dioptres?
  • Eye anatomy – you will have a complete examination to confirm the health of your eyes and corneal lining, plus confirm there is enough space to place the lens. The anterior chamber depth (ACD) should be 2.8mm or more and will be confirmed at your consultation.
  • Age – ICL patients are aged between 21 and 60. If aged over 40 then age-related presbyopia (the need for reading glasses) can also be factored in.
  • Stability – your vision should be stable for 12 months before considering ICL surgery. Eye health – some eye problems will typically prevent you having ICL surgery, including cataracts and glaucoma.
  • General health – some health problems can affect how your eyes heal after treatment, for example, some auto-immune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome). Immunosuppressant drugs and oral steroids can be associated with altered healing and should be discussed with our consultants.
  • Cost – ICLs are typically more expensive than laser eye surgery such as LASIK.


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If you are interested in vision correction at Focus Clinic please call us on 0207 307 8250 and book a free consultation.

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 Samar Hamada