Visian ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens) is a type of lens that is surgically implanted into the eye to correct refractive errors. An alternative to laser eye surgery for very short-sighted patients, the Visian ICL works like a contact lens – but because it is surgically implanted, it cannot be felt inside the eye, and because it’s a permanent vision correction solution, it eliminates the need for patients to remove or replace lenses every day.
How it works
The procedure to insert an intraocular lens (IOL) such as the Visian ICL is known as Phakic IOL. It’s a safe and quick operation done under local anaesthetic, using keyhole surgery to make a tiny incision and implant the lens.
The Visian ICL is a soft lens made from collamer, a material that can be folded easily in order to implant it safely into the eye. During surgery, it is inserted behind the iris. The natural lens remains in place, with the Visian ICL positioned in front of it.
Advantages over standard laser eye surgery
Visian ICL has several benefits and, for some patients, may be a better choice than LASIK or other forms of laser eye surgery:
• For myopic patients whose high prescriptions mean that laser eye surgery is not recommended, Visian ICL provides an alternative surgical option that achieves comparable improvements in vision. Research by Allon Barsam indicates that Phakic IOL procedures are actually safer than LASIK for moderate to high myopia (-6 to -20 dioptres).
• Unlike laser eye surgery, no corneal tissue is removed during the implantation procedure, which is minimally invasive and involves only a short recovery time.
• Inserting the Visian ICL is also a completely reversible procedure, so if for any reason a patient wants or needs to remove the lens in future, this can be done easily and safely.
A quick guide to IOL terminology
Some of the language around implantable lenses can be a little technical. Use this quick guide to help you cut through the jargon.
• Phakic IOL (intraocular lens). This can refer to the lens itself, or to the procedure to insert the lens into the eye. ‘Phakic’ means that the procedure does not involve touching or removing the eye’s natural lens.
• Visian ICL (implantable collamer lens). Sometimes known as an implantable contact lens, the Visian ICL is a common type of implantable lens, often inserted during the Phakic IOL procedure.
• Refractive lens exchange. This is another procedure that also involves implanting an intraocular lens in the eye. It differs from Phakic IOL because it involves the removal of the eye’s crystalline lens, usually in older patients (over 50).
What is it like to undergo the procedure?
The procedure to insert the Visian ICL is painless and typically takes just 10-15 minutes. The resulting improvement in vision can be dramatic. Once inserted, the lens cannot be felt inside the eye.