ICL Benefits and Risks

September 15, 2011 — by Dr. Zimmer
Tags: Implantable Contact Lenses Icl Lens Implants


There are many refractive options available to improve your vision. Today, you can choose from several choices of permanent vision correction procedures that include LASIK, PRK, and an implantable lens called the Visian ICL.  The Visian ICL is quite popular today at Pittsburgh LASIK. LASIK and PRK  uses safe laser energy to reshape the cornea, improving vision for people with myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. This is not the only option for improved vision, however.

Enter the implantable contact lens. Similar to prescription contact lenses in a way, implantable contact lenses are surgically placed to enhance your vision. Let’s take a look at what these are what risks and benefits patients should consider.

What is an implantable contact lens?

Pittsburgh implantable contact lenses (ICLs) are lens implants that will improve a person’s vision. It’s a great option if you are considering a refractive procedure.

Are they the same thing as intraocular lens implants?

Implantable contact lenses are similar to intraocular lenses. Intraocular lenses are lens implants that are placed during cataract surgery to restore a patient’s vision.

There is an important difference between the two, however. When an intraocular lens is placed following cataract removal, it replaces the clouded natural lens of the eye. When an implantable contact lens is placed, the natural lens of the eye remains.

What is the implantable contact lens procedure?

Implantable lenses function like contact lenses to correct nearsightedness. The difference is that they work from within the eye instead of sitting on the surface of the eye.  They offer permanent vision correction for nearsightedness but can be removed or replaced if vision needs change over time.  It’s an outpatient procedure that only takes about half an hour to complete with both eyes usually being done on the same day.

The surgeon will make a small incision in the cornea. Through this incision, the implantable contact lens will be inserted and positioned in front of the natural lens of the eye but behind the iris.  This enables light to focus properly on the retina.  As an added benefit, the Visian ICL lens material contains UV protection that blocks harmful UV rays.  Unlike contacts, patients can't feel the Visian ICL in their eye.  Apart from regular eye exams, the Visian ICL does not require any maintenance.  Because the Visian ICL is placed behind the iris, it is undetectable to onlookers.

Benefits of Implantable Contact Lenses

One of the great benefits of implantable contact lenses is the effectiveness of treatment.  After the outpatient procedure, patients usually experience an immediate improvement in their sight.  Recovery time is usually short and pain-free.   Implantable contact lenses are sometimes more effective as a refractive surgery option when it comes to higher prescriptions of myopia.  Studies have shown that 98% of ICL patients have achieved 20/20 vision or better, which means no need to wear corrective lenses for distance vision.

Implantable contact lens surgery has been proven safe. In fact, studies have shown that there is even less of a chance of complications linked to implantable contact lenses than intraocular lenses, and intraocular lenses are quite safe already.

Risks of Implantable Contact Lenses

Implantable contact lens surgery carries some degree of risk just as any surgery would. All risks and benefits will be discussed in person and will be read on an informed consent.  Our team of ophthalmologists in the Pittsburgh area are highly skilled and will work diligently to ensure your experience is as positive as possible.

Learn More About Vision Correction Options

For more information about implantable contact lenses and if they are a good option for you, be sure to contact our Cranberry Township vision correction center today.