Intraocular Contact Lenses: What Are They, How They Are Inserted, Benefits, Risks & Much More

intraocular contact lenses

Intraocular contact lenses, or ICLs, represent cutting-edge innovation in the field of vision correction. These tiny, biocompatible lenses are surgically placed within the eye to correct refractive errors. Unlike refractive surgeries that permanently alter the eye’s structure, ICLs provide a reversible solution that has transformed the landscape of vision care. This article delves inside and explores intraocular contact lenses, highlighting their design, functionality, benefits, and potential risks associated with their use.

What Are Intraocular Contact Lenses?

What Are Intraocular Contact LensesIntraocular contact lenses (ICLs), sometimes referred to as Implantable Collamer Lenses, are microscopic, biocompatible lenses that are surgically implanted within the eye to correct refractive errors. These specialized lenses are designed to improve visual acuity for individuals suffering from myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, and in some cases, presbyopia.

ICLs are made from Collamer, a collagen copolymer, which offers superior biocompatibility, UV protection, and optical performance. Unlike traditional contact lenses that are worn on the surface of the eye, ICLs are positioned either just in front of or just behind the iris (the colored part of the eye), depending on the design of the lens.

How Are Intraocular Contact Lenses Implanted?

The implantation of intraocular contact lenses (ICLs) is a delicate surgical procedure performed by an ophthalmologist. It’s a relatively quick process, often taking only about 15-30 minutes per eye. Here’s a general overview of what you can expect:

  • Preoperative Assessment:
    Before the procedure, the ophthalmologist conducts a comprehensive eye examination to evaluate your suitability for ICL implantation. These measurements help determine the precise size and power of the ICL needed for optimal vision correction.
  • Anesthesia:
    To ensure patient comfort, topical anesthesia (eye drops) is administered to numb the eye. In some cases, a mild sedative may also be given to help you relax during the procedure.
  • Creating the Incisions:
    Next, the surgeon creates two tiny incisions at the base of your cornea – the clear, front surface of the eye. These incisions are extremely small, often less than 3mm, which allows for a quicker healing process.
  • Lens Insertion:
    The ICL, folded into an injector cartridge, is then carefully inserted through the incisions. Once inside the eye, the lens slowly unfolds and is positioned either just behind or just in front of the iris, depending on the type of ICL being used.
  • Final Adjustments:
    The surgeon then makes any necessary adjustments to ensure the lens is correctly positioned and functioning as expected. Once the surgeon is satisfied with the placement, the procedure is complete.

Types of Intraocular Contact Lenses

Types of IOLsIntraocular contact lenses (ICLs) are broadly categorized into two main types. Both types aim to correct refractive errors, but they differ in design, placement, and the conditions they’re best suited for.

1. Phakic Intraocular Lenses (pIOLs): Phakic IOLs are designed to be inserted while leaving the eye’s natural lens in place. They are typically used for people who have a high degree of refractive error, which may not be effectively corrected by other procedures like LASIK or PRK.

Phakic IOLs themselves are further classified into two types:

  • Anterior Chamber Phakic IOLs (AC pIOLs)
  • Posterior Chamber Phakic IOLs (PC pIOLs)

2. Pseudophakic Intraocular Lenses: Pseudophakic IOLs are typically used during cataract surgery or refractive lens exchange (RLE) procedures. These lenses are always placed in the posterior chamber, in the same location that the natural lens occupied. There are several types of pseudophakic IOLs available, including:

  • Monofocal IOLs
  • Multifocal IOLs
  • Accommodative IOLs
  • Toric IOLs

The selection of the type of intraocular lens depends on various factors, including:

  • The health of the eye,
  • The type,
  • The severity of the refractive error
  • Lifestyle needs, and personal preferences.

Therefore, comprehensive consultation with an ophthalmologist is necessary to make an informed decision about the best type of ICL for each individual.

Benefits of Intraocular Contact Lenses

Intraocular contact lenses (ICLs) offer a range of benefits that make them an attractive option for vision correction. Here are some key advantages:

  • High-Quality Vision: ICLs are known for providing excellent quality of vision, often resulting in sharp, clear sight with reduced risks of glare, halos, or night vision problems that can sometimes occur with other refractive surgeries.
  • Versatility: ICLs can correct a wide range of refractive errors, including high degrees of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism, where other procedures may not be suitable or effective.
  • Preservation of Corneal Structure: Unlike procedures such as LASIK that reshape the cornea, the implantation of ICLs does not involve the removal of corneal tissue. This is beneficial for patients with thin corneas or other corneal issues.
  • Reversibility: While ICL implantation is intended to be a permanent solution to correct vision, the procedure is reversible. If a patient’s vision changes significantly over time or if there are any complications, the lenses can be removed or replaced.
  • UV Protection: Many ICLs offer built-in ultraviolet (UV) protection, helping to shield the eyes from the harmful effects of sun exposure.
  • Quick Recovery: Recovery from ICL implantation is typically quick, with many patients experiencing improved vision almost immediately after the procedure. Most normal activities can be resumed within a few days.

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Intraocular Contact Lenses

Potential Risks and Side Effects of IOLs

While ICLs offer numerous benefits, like any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and side effects. These may include:

  • Infection and Inflammation: As with any surgery, there’s a risk of infection or inflammation, although this is relatively rare with ICL implantation.
  • Cataract Development: There’s a small risk that ICLs could cause the development of cataracts over time, although this is relatively rare.
  • Glaucoma: Increased intraocular pressure could potentially lead to glaucoma, although this risk is also low.
  • Retinal Detachment: Though quite rare, there’s a small risk of retinal detachment during or after ICL implantation.
  • Halos, Glare, or Double Vision: Some patients may experience visual disturbances such as halos, glare, or double vision, especially during the initial recovery period.
  • Lens Displacement: There’s a small chance the ICL could shift from its intended position, which may require a follow-up procedure to adjust or replace the lens.

Ideal Candidates for IOLs

Intraocular contact lenses (ICLs) can be an excellent option for vision correction in a wide variety of individuals. However, not everyone is a suitable candidate for this procedure. The ideal candidate for ICL implantation typically meets the following criteria:

  • Age: ICLs are generally recommended for individuals between the ages of 21 and 45. By this age, the eye’s prescription has typically stabilized, which is crucial for ensuring the long-term success of the procedure.
  • Stable Prescription: Candidates should have a stable eye prescription for at least one year.
  • Severity of Refractive Error: ICLs are especially beneficial for those with moderate to high refractive errors. They’re often a preferred choice for individuals who are too nearsighted, or farsighted.
  • Adequate Anterior Chamber Depth and Endothelial Cell Count: The space in the eye in front of the iris must be deep enough to accommodate the ICL. Additionally, the cornea’s endothelial cell count (the inner layer of cells on the cornea) must be within a healthy range to ensure the eye can maintain its health post-implantation.
  • Good Overall Eye Health: Ideal candidates for ICL implantation should be free from any eye diseases such as glaucoma, iritis, or corneal disease.
  • Not Ideal for LASIK or PRK: People who are not good candidates for LASIK or PRK due to reasons like thin corneas or dry eyes, may find ICLs to be a suitable alternative.
  • No Cataracts: Candidates should not have cataracts, as this can interfere with the effectiveness of the ICLs.

Recovery and Aftercare: What to Expect

What to Expect after surgeryThe recovery period after intraocular contact lens (ICL) implantation is typically straightforward and relatively quick. Here’s what you can generally expect after the procedure:

  • Right after the procedure, your eye may feel a little irritated or scratchy, similar to having a dry contact lens in the eye. You’ll be given sunglasses to protect your eyes from bright light and glare.
  • In the first day or two after surgery, you should take it easy. Resting your eyes as much as possible can help the healing process. You might experience some light sensitivity, and your vision may be a bit blurry.
  • You should avoid rubbing your eyes for at least a week to prevent dislodging the newly implanted lens.
  • You’ll have a follow-up appointment usually within a day or two after the surgery, then at regular intervals after that. These check-ups allow your doctor to monitor your healing process and ensure the ICL is functioning correctly.
  • Swimming and using a hot tub or sauna should be avoided for at least a week or two to decrease the risk of infection.
  • Once your eyes have healed, ongoing care is similar to the care you’d give your eyes without ICLs. Regular eye exams should be part of your routine to maintain overall eye health.


Intraocular contact lenses (ICLs) have emerged as a remarkable advancement in refractive surgery, offering a versatile and effective solution to a wide range of vision problems. Their ability to correct a broad spectrum of refractive errors, combined with the added advantages of quick recovery, preservation of corneal structure, and reversibility, make them an excellent choice for many patients.

However, it’s important to remember that ICLs are just one option in a wide array of refractive surgery procedures. If, for any reason, you find that ICLs may not be the right fit for your vision correction needs, LASIK surgery could be an excellent alternative.

Lasik surgery is a safe 10-minute procedure to help you get rid of glasses. EyeMantra offers the most advanced LASIK options including PRK, Femto Lasik, SMILE surgery, Standard LASIK, ICL, and Contoura vision. If you have any questions on Lasik surgery in Delhi, Lasik surgery cost, and Lasik procedure, call us at 9711116605 or email at [email protected].

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