Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL)

What is an ICL?

An ICL, or implantable collamer lens, is an artificial lens designed to correct refractive errors. This specialized lens is similar to a contact lens, but is instead implanted in front of the eye’s natural lens and behind the iris. This provides long-term correction of refractive errors and is virtually unnoticeable. ICLs have been in use for nearly two decades and have a history of safety and effectiveness because no tissue is removed during the procedure. ICLs offer an effective alternative to many laser procedures.

Am I a candidate for Implantable Collamer Lenses?

The best candidates for ICLs are patients above 18 years old who have moderate to severe refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Most often, good candidates for ICLs are patients who are otherwise not good candidates for laser procedures because of factors like thin corneas or high prescription. In some cases, it’s possible to remove ICLs later on if needed. It’s important to note that having thin or irregular corneas, very high prescriptions, or severely dry eyes may mean that ICLs are not a good option for you. Additionally, your prescription should be stable and no longer drastically changing.

What happens during an ICL procedure?

ICLs can be placed in about 10-15 minutes per eye. There is very little pain or discomfort involved, and we’ll administer anesthetic eye drops and a mild sedative so that you’re relaxed and comfortable. Once you’re ready, the ICL is inserted behind the iris and in front of the natural lens through a tiny incision. Once in place, the ICL does not touch or interact with any of the eye’s other internal structures, so you likely won’t feel or notice the lens once it’s in place.

“ I came to Dr. Nguyen for ICL (implantable collamer lens) surgery, as another surgeon had evaluated me as not a good candidate for LASIK due to my high prescription. Everything was very straightforward, and the staff and Dr. Nguyen answered my questions completely and promptly, often going out of their way to answer after business hours. The surgery itself was very easy, and I had complete confidence in Dr. Nguyen - which is saying something, b/c this was my first ever surgical procedure. My recovery was a little less linear/slower than I had expected, but everyone reacts to surgery differently, especially with something as complicated as your eyes, so ymmv. The side effects were a little stressful at first, but I'm now 6 weeks post-surgery and very happy with the results ”

What can I expect after the procedure?

After the procedure, you’ll be instructed to use prescription eye drops to reduce discomfort and help your eyes heal. The incisions are self-healing and will recover quickly. Most patients notice improvement in their vision as early as the day after the procedure where it’s often described as extremely high-definition. In the few days following the procedure, your vision will continue to improve as the eye heals and adjusts to the implant. We’ll follow up with you regularly to ensure that your eyes are healing and you’re experiencing no complications.

To get started on your options with Implantable Collamer Lenses, we invite you to request an appointment at our Falls Church office by calling or filling out our online form. Dr. Anh Nguyen and our expert ophthalmologists can recommend the right options for you for long-term vision correction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the ICL procedure hurt?

Although it can seem uncomfortable, the ICL procedure is quick and straightforward. For your comfort, we’ll administer numbing drops so you don’t feel anything. Additionally, we can provide a mild sedative so you can relax during the length of the procedure.

What if my vision changes after the procedure?

We commonly recommend that patients have a stable prescription before undergoing an ICL procedure, meaning you vision hasn’t changed for a year or longer. However, it’s not impossible for your vision to change after the procedure, so we can replace the lenses during a quick and easy procedure to further correct your vision.

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Will anyone be able to see the lenses?

ICLs are virtually unnoticeable after implantation since they are placed between the iris (the colored part of your eye) and the natural lens underneath it. Although your surgeon and ophthalmologist will be able to tell whether you’ve had an ICL procedure, most people will not be able to notice.

What is Collamer?

Collamer is a biocompatible material that contains a small amount of purified collagen. It is very safe and effective, and also contains an ultraviolet filter to protect the eyes.

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