Implantable collamer lens

An implantable collamer lens (ICL) inserted into an eye.

What is an implantable collamer lens (ICL)?

An implantable collamer lens (ICL), also known as an implantable contact lens, is a refractive lens implant that is implanted into the eye to correct short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. It functions exactly like a contact lens, except that it is surgically implanted into the eye, behind the iris (the coloured part of your eye) and in front of your natural lens. An ICL does not require any maintenance, and stays in the eye until you decide to have it removed.

Am I suitable for an ICL?

ICLs are a good alternative for patients who are unsuitable for laser eye surgery. ICLs are usually recommended to patients with high prescriptions and/or thin or abnormally shaped corneas that do not allow the eye to be safely treated with LASIK or PRK. ICLs can correct a wide range of refractive errors between -18.0D of short-sightedness (myopia) and +10.0D of long-sightedness (hyperopia) and up to 6.0D of astigmatism.

You should be at least 21 years of age and your spectacle prescription should be stable for at least a year prior to surgery.

What is an ICL made of?

ICLs are made of a proprietary lens material composed of a collagen co-polymer that contains a small amount of purified collagen and a material similar to that found in soft contact lenses. It is very biocompatible (does not cause a reaction inside the eye) and stable. It also contains an ultraviolet light filter.

How does an ICL work?

An ICL works similarly to a contact lens. The difference is that the lens is placed inside your eye, rather than on the surface. The lens is invisible. You can neither see nor feel the lens once it is inside the eye.

What are the benefits of an ICL?

  • The procedure is reversible – while the ICL is intended to be permanently placed in your eye to correct your vision, one of the most important advantages of the lens is that it can be easily removed and/or replaced if necessary. For the majority of patients, the lens remains indefinitely in the eye until it needs to be removed, usually at the time when a cataract develops, later in life.
  • The lens can be implanted with a quick, painless and minimally invasive procedure.
  • Quick results – patients often achieve improved vision immediately following the procedure.
  • Short recovery – the recovery time for ICL surgery is quick and pain-free. Most patients recover within a day or less due to the very small size of the opening required to insert the lens into your eye. Patients typically experience minimal discomfort, and usually go back to work after 1-2 days.
  • It is a safe and effective treatment for patients excluded from laser vision correction because of high prescriptions, thin, or abnormally shaped corneas, or severe dry eyes.
  • It treats a wide range of prescriptions.
  • The lens offers UV protection.

What does ICL surgery involve?

ICL surgery is performed as a day surgery. Before the procedure you will be given a light sedative to make you feel calm and relaxed. Anaesthetic eye drops will be used to numb your eye. There is very little discomfort during the procedure. A very small opening is created to allow for insertion of the ICL.

The ICL is folded into an introducer and injected into the eye. Once inside the eye, the lens unfolds and is positioned in place behind the iris. The small opening is self-sealing and does not require any sutures.

The procedure itself takes less than 30 minutes but you should expect to stay for at least 2 hours to allow for recovery. Dr Goh will examine your eye and check your eye pressure two hours after surgery.

We recommend that you have someone with you to drive you home.

What is the recovery like after ICL surgery?

Visual recovery is fast and most patients are able to see very well by the next day. Your vision will continue to improve as the eye heals and settles down over the first few weeks following ICL surgery. It is not uncommon for the eye to feel gritty and irritable for a few days after surgery. You will be given antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops to prevent infection and assist with healing. Most patients are able to resume normal activities a week after surgery.

What if my vision changes?

If your vision changes dramatically over time, the ICL can be replaced or removed from the eye. With the ICL in place you can still wear glasses or contact lenses if necessary. The lens does not treat presbyopia or eliminate the need for reading glasses due to age.

Booking a consultation

If you’d like to find out if you are suitable for Implantable Collamer Lenses (ICL), please contact us on (03) 8080 1082 to book a consultation at one of our eye clinics in Melbourne, Victoria, or click on the button below to request a call back.

Implantable Collamer Lens FAQs:

ICL for vision correction is considered discretionary surgery and is not covered by Medicare or private health insurance.

In some instances however, ICL surgery may be covered by Medicare and your health fund when used in the treatment of certain eye conditions. At your consultation Dr Goh will advise if you are eligible for a Medicare rebate.

The cost varies according to your spectacle prescription as the ICL implants are more expensive for higher prescriptions. In general, the approximate cost is $4000-$5000 per eye.

We accept payment by EFTPOS, credit card, cash, direct bank deposit or bank cheques.

A referral is required for you to claim a Medicare rebate for your consultation. A referral can be obtained from your optometrist, General Practitioner, or another ophthalmologist. A referral from your optometrist with a record of your last spectacle prescription is very helpful in determining the stability of your refraction in the last 12 months and helps us understand any concerns you may have regarding your eyes and vision. Having a referral from your GP or optometrist also allows Dr Goh to have a dialogue with your health care practitioners as we value their input in your care.

Patients who are found not to be suitable for laser eye surgery due to an underlying pathology are eligible for a Medicare rebate for their consultation if they have a valid referral.

Dr Goh performs ICL surgery at the Manningham Private Hospital in Templestowe Lower.

ICLs can correct up to -18.0D of myopia (short-sightedness), +10D of hyperopia (long-sightedness) and up to +6.0D of astigmatism.

No. The ICL is positioned behind the iris (the coloured part of your eye), where it is invisible to both you and others. Only your eye care practitioner will be able to tell that vision correction has taken place.

The ICL is not usually noticeable after it is implanted. It does not attach to any structures within the eye and does not move around once in place.

Visual recovery is very quick with ICL surgery and most patients are able to achieve excellent unaided vision by the following day.

ICL surgery is usually performed one eye at a time. The second eye is typically done within the same week, and therefore we advise that you take a week off work.

ICLs are a very good and safe alternative for patients who are not suitable for laser eye surgery. Safety is our number one priority, and if you are found not to be suitable for laser eye surgery, ICL may be an option for you if you meet the criteria for the implantation of these lenses.

ICLs are a very good and safe alternative for patients who are not suitable for laser eye surgery. Safety is our number one priority, and if you are found not to be suitable for laser eye surgery, ICL may be an option for you if you meet the criteria for the implantation of these lenses.