Implantable contact lens (ICL) surgery is used to correct myopia (nearsightedness) in people who are not eligible for laser eye surgery and who don't want to continue wearing glasses or traditional contact lenses.
The average cost of ICL surgery is around £3,000 per eye, with many clinics offering finance packages to help you spread the cost of the procedure.
Because ICL surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, the recovery time is very quick with the risk of serious complications occurring being very rare.
What Is ICL Surgery?
An implantable contact lens (ICL) is a clear, plastic lens that is surgically inserted into the eye to correct moderate to severe myopia (nearsightedness) in patients who are not eligible for laser eye surgery, or no longer wish to continue wearing glasses or contact lenses.
An ICL does not replace your eye's natural lens, but rather goes in front of it and behind the iris (which gives the eye its colour.) A surgeon will make a small incision on the surface of the eye and inject a folded-up ICL into the eye, which will unfold once placed into the correct position. The surgery takes around half an hour to complete, and is carried out under local anesthetic.
When in place, the ICL performs the same role as glasses or traditional contact lenses by altering the way light is focused on the retina, therefore increasing focus and visual clarity. ICLs are intended to remain in place for a lifetime without maintenance, although it is recommended that patients visit their surgeon once a year for a check-up.
If you do encounter problems with your ICL or your prescription changes, the ICL can be easily removed and replaced without causing any damage to the eye.
What ICLs Are Available?
There are two main types of lens used in ICL surgery. The type of lens inserted into your eye will depend on the severity of your myopia.
- Visian: made from soft, flexible collagen, this lens is positioned behind the iris and in front of your eye's natural lens, making it invisible to the human eye.
- Verisyes: unlike the Visian ICL, this lens is positioned in front of the iris and is made from a hard, rigid plastic. Because of its different location within the eye, it can be seen by the human eye at very close ranges.
Both types of lens eliminate the need for you to wear glasses or traditional contact lenses following surgery.
Are You Eligible For ICL Surgery?
Not everyone is considered to be eligible for ICL surgery, and there are some requirements that must be met in order for you to qualify for the procedure. These include:
- An unchanging prescription for at least one year.
- Thin corneas which make laser eye surgery unsafe.
- Eyes free from diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts.
- A good overall health.
- Are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Do not suffer from an autoimmune disease.
- Have not experienced significant eye trauma.
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How Much Does ICL Surgery Cost?
Since implantable contact lenses are custom-made to order, a non-refundable deposit is requested before the surgery is carried out. Prices for this are around £500 per eye. This deposit is included in the final price, but will not be returned should the procedure be cancelled as this covers the cost of manufacture.
The total cost of ICL surgery is approximately between £2,495 and £3,495 per eye, which typically includes aftercare for about one year after the surgery. Some practitioners also recommend that patients have an Endothelial Cell Count test about once every two years after surgery which will cost around £25 each time. This table shows you how much you should expect to pay for ICL surgery at some of the best eye surgery clinics in the UK:
|Clinic||Price Per Eye|
|Advanced Vision Care||From £3350|
|Optical Express||From £2995|
The type of lens you have inserted into your eye during the surgery will also affect the overall cost of the procedure. The table below shows the average price of Visian and Verisyes lenses, with Verisyes lenses typically costing more:
|Type Of ICL||Price Per Eye|
ICL Surgery On Finance
Many leading laser eye surgery clinics also provide patients with finance options to spread the cost of the surgery. These often involve monthly repayments over a preset period of time at a fixed interest rate. For shorter payback periods, this is usually 0% meaning you only pay back the cost of the surgery. For longer payback periods, the interest rate is often much higher making the total cost of your surgery more expensive. The exact terms of these financial agreements are decided by each clinic, but all will require you to undergo a credit check before you can enter into any financial agreement.
The table below provides you with an overview of some of the finance deals for ICL surgery offered by top-rated clinics in the UK:
|Advanced Vision Care||£1250||
What Factors Affect The Cost of ICL Surgery?
There are several factors which can have an effect on the total cost of ICL surgery. Different clinics charge differing amounts which will usually vary depending on a number of factors including:
- The surgeon's experience in this specific field of surgery.
- The surgeon's overall qualifications.
- The size and location of the clinic
- The reputation of the surgeon or clinic itself.
We recommend that you receive several quotes from a number of different clinics, and compare what is included in the advertised price, since some clinics charge extra for services such as consultations, aftercare and check-up appointments.
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The Benefits Of ICL Surgery
The biggest benefit of ICL is that it is suitable for a wider ranger of patients than laser treatment, particularly those who are severely myopic (nearsighted). Some ICL providers report having successfully treated patients with nearsightedness of up to -20 dioptres. To put this into context, anything over -6 dioptres is generally defined as high myopia.
The surgery is virtually pain-free and only takes around 30 minutes to perform and patients should notice an improvement immediately after surgery. Recovery time from the surgery is relatively quick due to the minimally invasive nature of the surgery itself, with patients being fully healed in one month.
Other benefits include:
- ICL is suitable for people who want to keep their options open. The procedure is totally reversible and the lens can be removed or replaced if you change your mind, or if your eye changes over time.
- ICL leaves you open to the possibility of eye treatment technologies continuing to develop and improve.
- In some cases, ICL may work out cheaper than using traditional contact lenses in the long run. This will vary from person to person and probably should not be your sole reason for getting the treatment.
- Some providers offer ICL models that include protection from ultra-violet rays, similar to wearing sunglasses. This does not involve any change in the lens's colour or what you see.
The lens itself manufactured exclusively for each individual and it is also completely reversible, so if the patient's vision changes over time, they can be removed and replaced. It can work out cheaper than removable contact lenses in the long run and this method is very safe and has a high success rate. Patients can even normally go back to work, drive and resume normal activities the day after surgery, making an extremely attractive option for many people suffering from a number of sight related issues.
Side Effects And Risks Of ICL Surgery
ICL requires a much smaller incision than laser surgery, so the recovery process is usually much quicker and with fewer side effects. you will need to return to the surgery the day after the procedure for a check-up and may have to use eye drops to deal with the problem of "dry eye" or irritation. You may also need to wear a protective eye shield.
Possible side effects include:
- some short-lived, minor discomfort or pain that can be treated with over the counter medication
- increased sensitivity to light.
These effects should be short-lived and your eyes should be back to "normal" within a week at the most, and sometimes as little as 24 hours.
Considering ICL Surgery?
ICL is a very personalised surgery, with the lens made to suit your specific eyes. It can be a good option for many people, but is not necessarily your best option. We highly recommend using our consultation booking service that will put you in touch with a local surgeon who will be able to talk over the procedure with you, assess your needs, and help you make an informed decision.