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, despite 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.
ICL Surgery, while not new, is quickly becoming a popular alternative to LASIK among both patients and eye surgeons. The first ICL was implanted in 1993 and FDA studies began shortly thereafter in 1997. Today, there have been over 1 million ICLs implanted so far, and a new lens is implanted world-wide every seven minutes.
What is ICL Surgery?
Now, you may be wondering, what is ICL Surgery? Implantable collamer lens – ICL for short – has been an alternative for vision correction surgery patients for over a decade. The Visian® ICL procedure consists of placing a corrective lens, similar to a contact lens, in the eye itself.
ICL 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) and/or astigmatism.
During the ICL procedure, no corneal tissue is removed. The lens is inserted through a 3 mm self-sealing incision where no stitches are needed. Vision is significantly improved immediately after surgery and continues to improve over the next few days and is often described as ultra-high definition.
ICL vs LASIK
While LASIK is the most popular refractive surgery for vision correction, ICL is now a popular option for those who have corneas that are too thin for laser refractive procedures (since the procedure does not involve reshaping of the cornea), and for those who have a higher degree of myopia. Postoperative vision is incredibly sharp, and most patients can even see well enough to drive by the next day.
ICL can cost more than LASIK and is not an option for everyone. 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 to help you make an informed decision regarding whether ICL surgery is right for you.
To see if you’re a good candidate for ICL Surgery, or to schedule an appointment, visit Hoopes Vision or call 801-568-0200.