What to expect after ICL surgery: Benefits and recovery
Mr Tariq Ayoub - 3 Apr 2021
Implantable contact lens (ICL) surgery is where a custom refractive lens is implanted into the eye through a tiny incision. The artificial lens that is implanted will sit on top of your natural lens, improving your vision. The treatment is also known as implantable collamer lens surgery.
An alternative to laser vision correction, ICL surgery may be a good option if you need a high prescription to see. It is often the best way to improve vision and reduce your dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
In this blog post, we explain the benefits of ICL surgery. We also explore what to expect after ICL surgery, discussing the ICL surgery recovery process in detail. Read on to find out all you need to know about this vision corrective procedure.
Benefits of ICL surgery
There are a number of benefits of ICL surgery, including:
- Improved vision and reduced dependence on glasses or contact lenses
- It is a great alternative if you are not suitable for laser eye surgery
- Can improve nearsightedness which often cannot be corrected with other surgeries
- A more suitable option for people with dry eyes
- Artificial lenses offer good night vision
- The process is pain-free, as anaesthetic drops are used
- No tissue removal, so recovery is rapid
Is ICL surgery painful?
ICL surgery is not painful, as your doctor will use anaesthetic drops to numb your eye. In some cases, your doctor may use a block of anaesthetic to freeze your eye so you feel no pain.
If you have any concerns about whether ICL surgery is painful, watch this video FAQ to learn more about the pain-free process:
ICL surgery recovery: Precautions and what to expect
It is natural to have worries about ICL surgery recovery, as with any procedure. Here’s exactly what to expect after ICL surgery and the precautions you should take:
- Pain levels: Your eye should not be painful but you may feel some slight discomfort. Make sure you have some over-the-counter pain relieving tablets at home.
- Vision: Your vision may be misty for a few days after surgery. This is just as your eyes heal and adjust to the new lens implant. Using the drops as prescribed will help clear this mistiness.
- Activity levels: Take it easy for the first 24 hours after surgery. Take care when stepping off pavements and going up and down stairs.
- Eyeshield: After the surgery, you will have an eye shield over your eyes to protect them. Leave these on overnight and remove the following morning by 8am.
- Cleaning: Clean your lids with cool boiled water and tissues. Don’t rub your eyes and remember to use your eye drops.
- Night-time care: You should keep using your eyeshields at night to protect your eyes while you’re asleep. You can stick the shield down with tape. You can wash and dry the shield each morning.
- Avoid driving: You must not drive until your doctor tells you it is okay to do so.
- Wear your sunglasses: Invest in a good UV protecting pair of sunglasses. Use this for the first few days after surgery and every time you are out in bright sunlight.
- Avoid swimming or heavy exercise: You must allow your eyes to heal. It is best to avoid swimming or heavy exercise for 2 weeks after the surgery.
When to see a doctor
If you experience any of the following, go back to see your doctor:
- Any severe pain that is not relieved by ordinary pain-relieving tablets
- Swelling of the eye and surrounding area
- A sticky eye or eyes that become redder with time
- Vision that gets worse rather than better
- A raised temperature
What can ICL correct or treat?
ICL surgery can correct and treat:
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Hyperopia (farsightedness)
Who is unsuitable for ICL?
You may be unsuitable for ICL surgery if you:
- Are under 18
- Have cataracts
- Recurrent inflammation
- Don’t have a stable prescription
- Don’t have enough room in the front of the eye for the lens
A stable prescription is normally defined as a change of less than 0.5D in the last two years.
To check if you have enough room in the front of your eye for the lens, your doctor will do a scan of your eye at your initial appointment.
ICL can effectively treat the following range of glasses prescriptions:
- Myopia or short-sightedness: Up to -18.00D
- Hyperopia or long-sightedness: Up to +10.00D
- Astigmatism: Up to ±6.00D
How to prepare for ICL surgery
To prepare for your ICL surgery, you should:
- Avoid makeup: Stop wearing eye makeup 2-3 days before surgery.
- Continue medications: Take your tablets, eye drops and any other medications as usual.
- Dress comfortably: Shower and wear comfortable clothes for your surgery.
- Eat a light meal: Unless you’re having sedation or general anaesthesia, eat a light meal on the day of your surgery.
Booking ICL surgery
Ready to book your ICL surgery? Get in touch to arrange an appointment.