Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL)

An Implantable Contact Lens (ICL) is a synthetic lens which is placed in between the iris and the natural lens of the eye. It is an option for people with refractive errors who are not suitable for laser vision correction surgery.

We take time to understand your vision needs and will recommend the best procedure to suit your eyes, your work and your lifestyle.

Implantable contact lens

What is involved in the ICL procedure?

  • The eye surgeon creates a 3.5mm incision at the edge of the cornea to gently implant and carefully position the soft folded ICL behind the iris and in front of the natural lens.
  • An implantable contact lens only takes 15 minutes per eye, followed by a few hours to monitor your eye pressure.

What are the benefits of an ICL?

ICL implantation does not change the thickness or curvature of the cornea like laser surgery does. The implant has a number of benefits:

  • Suitable for people ineligible for laser vision correction - Patients can partake in a variety of activities one month after ICL surgery. This allows patients to pursue contact sports, certain recreational activities and chosen careers such as the military.
  • Quick Procedure & Speedy Recovery - Patients that undergo ICL implantation have a quick and relatively pain-free recovery where most people experience minimal discomfort. The self-sealing incision made allows most people to resume daily activities in just a few days with clearer vision.
  • No Dry Eye - ICL implantation has minimal impact on dry eye. This is achieved by a small incision that minimizes the impact on corneal nerves.
  • UV Protection - Newer generations of ICL’s now contain a UV filter that stops harmful exposure from UV rays from entering the eye thereby preventing the development of UV related eye conditions.
  • Reversible - Although being intended to be a permanent solution for vision correction, ICL’s can be removed and replaced if your prescription changes.
  • Reduced glare and halos - Glare and halos after ICL implantation are minimal compared with some forms of laser surgery.

Who is suitable for an ICL?

  • Prescription outside the range for LASIK, PRK or SMILE
  • Corneas too thin for LASIK, PRK or SMILE
  • Patients aged between 21 and 45 seeking clear vision with no history of ocular complications

Who is not suitable for an ICL?

  • Prescription inside the range for LASIK, PRK or SMILE with a normal corneal thickness
  • Over the age of 45 are often suited for clear lens exchange for refractive correction
  • Shallow anterior chamber depth
  • Corneal condition or injury
  • Someone with a habit of eye rubbing

What are the risks of an ICL?

With more than 200,000 ICL’s implanted around the world since 1997, the ICL has an excellent safety profile compared to other procedures. The following complications are rare but can occur:

  • Increased eye pressure - The nature of the surgery involves the ICL being placed closely behind the iris which impacts the eye’s natural drainage system between the front and back chambers. The position of the ICL can change the shape of the iris and release pigment. Both of these changes affect the drainage system causing unwanted pressure spikes. To ensure this does not occur, we obtain a baseline eye pressure reading and assess your drainage angle.
  • Corneal Endothelial Cell Loss - Research shows ICL’s can cause endothelial cell loss. The endothelium is the back layer of the cornea where its primary function is maintaining clarity of the cornea by draining fluid. Prior to ICL surgery, we check to assess the health of the corneal endothelium with a test known as specular microscopy.
  • Cataracts - An ICL can cause a cataract to form inside the natural lens because of the close proximity of the ICL over the natural lens. Over time surgery may need to be performed to remove the cataract.

Preparing for Surgery

What to expect for your ICL surgery

Prior to surgery

  • Surgery is performed as a day procedure under local anaesthetic, one eye at a time.
  • A mild sedative will be given to help with any nerves and minimize discomfort.
  • Wear comfortable, warm clothes as the theatre is set at a specific temperature and humidity to ensure ideal operating temperatures for the equipment..
  • It is important you do not drive after the procedure, so please organise someone to accompany you on the day to drive you home.

During the procedure

  • Once numb, your eye surgeon will create a 3.5mm incision at the edge of the cornea.
  • The surgeon will then carefully position the soft folded ICL behind the iris and in front of the natural lens.​
  • ICL implantation only takes 15 minutes per eye, however you will be kept back for a few hours to monitor your eye pressure.
  • You will then be moved to the recovery area and offered something to eat and drink. After resting, you will be able to go home.

After surgery

  • You will need to use eye drops as prescribed by your eye surgeon.
  • A follow-up eye post-operative examination will be scheduled the next morning to monitor the vision, pressure and health of your eyes.
For a diagnosis and to discuss treatment options of any eye condition, please make an appointment.