Oculase Articles

What can ICL eye surgery be used to treat?

Mr Tariq Ayoub - 4 Mar 2022

What does ICL surgery involve?

An implantable contact lens (ICL) is a micro-thin implant designed to sit permanently inside your eye, rather than being removed and replaced like a standard contact lens. 

ICLs are made from a very soft, flexible material and they sit behind your iris, the coloured part of your eye, but on top of your natural lens. 

Anaesthetic drops are administered before treatment and then a small keyhole incision is made on the edge of the cornea. The lens is folded, inserted, and correctly positioned behind the iris using a special delivery device, before unfolding into position. 

Both eyes can be treated on the same day, or the second operation may be scheduled for a week after the first. ICL surgery has a 20+ year track record, with over a million lenses implanted worldwide.

Read our blog to learn more about how long implantable contact lenses last after surgery.

Watch our video to hear Mr Tariq Ayoub explain why ICL surgery is a painless procedure.


Who is suitable for ICL surgery?

Anyone between the ages of 21 and 60 with a stable prescription can have ICL surgery, whether for myopia (shortsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism. 

ICL can correct myopia from -0.50 to -20.00D, and hyperopia from +0.50 to +10.00D. Toric ICL implants correct astigmatism from 0.5D to 6.00D. 

ICL surgery can be used as an alternative to laser eye surgery. It’s usually reserved for people who aren’t suitable for laser vision correction surgery. This includes patients who have very thin corneas or an extremely high prescription, as the levels that can safely be corrected are much higher than for laser eye surgery. 

It’s also a good option for patients with eye surface problems such as dry eye, keratoconus, and thin or abnormally shaped corneas, including those who’ve had corneal transplants.

Suitability for ICL surgery is best determined at the first consultation, where your ophthalmic surgeon will conduct a thorough eye examination, backed up with specific tests and measurements of eye dimensions to check you have enough room in the front of your eye to fit the ICL safely. 

ICL surgery may not be a suitable option if other eye problems are present, such as cataracts, glaucoma or recurrent inflammation.


What are the risks of ICL surgery?

Immediately after surgery, your eyes will be sore and red, feel gritty, and you may have slightly blurred vision and sensitivity to light. This is normal and should resolve in a few days. 

Sometimes after surgery, the pressure in your eye(s) may be raised. If so, you’ll be given some drops or tablets to reduce the pressure. And, as with all surgery, there is a risk of infection but this can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics.

Another important factor is how the lens sits in the eye. Although it is made to fit according to the measurements taken, if it doesn’t sit snugly enough in the eye, it may shift out of position. If this happens, a second surgery may be required to reposition, replace, or remove the lens completely. 


What are the benefits of ICL surgery?

ICL surgery can be used to treat a wide prescription range, delivering improved vision without permanent modification. So there’s no thinning of the cornea or risk of laser-induced dryness.

You can’t see or feel the lenses after implantation, and they do not need to be cleaned. They also contain UV protection, preventing UV rays from affecting the eye. ICL surgery is reversible and the lens can be removed at any stage, for example, if cataract surgery is required later in life. Learn more about how long ICL lasts here.

Read our article to learn more about the benefits of ICL surgery and recovery.


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About the author

Mr Tariq Ayoub
Mr Tariq Ayoub, Consultant Ophthalmologist

Mr Ayoub has been rated as one of the top eye surgeons in the UK. He is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, one of the largest NHS trusts in England. He is also the Lead for the Emergency Department at Western Eye Hospital, as part of the Imperial College Trust.

Mr Ayoub completed his Ophthalmology training at the prestigious London School of Ophthalmology, namely at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Royal Free Hospital. During his career, he has received many prestigious awards from national and international organisations for his work in the field of ophthalmology.

His clinical interests include treatment for cataracts, vision correction, corneal disease, eye-lid disorders, trauma, and general ophthalmology. Mr Ayoub prides himself on the high quality of his work. With his extensive experience, he can holistically manage complex eye conditions to deliver the best care for his patients.

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