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Implantable contact lens (ICL) surgery

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What are implantable contact lens?

Implantable contact lenses (ICL) are soft, flexible implants which are similar to traditional contact lenses. They are implanted within the eye between the natural lens and the iris. It’s a bit like having permanent contact lenses that you never have to take out, clean or think about. The implantable contact lens surgery uses Phakic Intraocular Lenses (pIOLs). At Moorfields Private Eye Hospital, we utilise two types of Phakic IOL. These include;

  • Visian Implantable Collamer lens (ICL), which is a soft and flexible implant that sits between the natural lens and iris
  • Artisan intraocular lens (IOL), which sits just in front of the iris

Your consultant will be able to advise you on which option is best for you.”

The benefits of ICL surgery

Implantable contact lenses can be used to treat a wide prescription range to deliver clearer, improved vision without permanent modification of the cornea such as with LASIK,. There is no thinning of the corneal and no risk of laser-induced dry eye.

You cannot see or feel ICLs after implantation, and they do not need to be cleaned. The artificial lens also contains UV protection, which prevents UV rays from affecting the eye and contributing to eye disorders. Another benefit of ICL is that the surgery is reversible and the lens can be removed at any stage, for instance, if cataract surgery is required later in life.

ICL are preferred to refractive lens exchange (cataract surgery) in younger patients because the natural lens is still flexible enough to allow you to read without glasses after correction of your distance vision. It can also help patients who may not be suitable for other types of vision correction treatment.

What does ICL eye surgery involve?

Your eyes will be assessed during the initial consultation and your prescription checked by an optometrist. A full medical history will also be taken to ensure the consultant is aware of any medical conditions that may affect your ability to undergo surgery. Your consultant will then be able to advise you on the most suitable procedure for you, as well as discussing the possible alternatives with you.

At Moorfields Private, your chosen consultant will supervise every stage of your care from start to finish for complete continuity and peace of mind.

During ICL surgery, either both eyes are treated on the same day, or the second operation typically a week after the first. Anaesthetic and sedatives are administered prior to treatment to ensure you experience minimal discomfort. A small keyhole incision (2-3mm) is then made in the edge of the cornea and the ICL is folded and inserted into the eye through this. Using a special delivery device, the lens implant is correctly positioned behind the iris and unfolds into place.

You may experience some side effects after the procedure, such as blurry vision, sensitivity to light, discomfort of the eyes and glare from lights in the dark, but these are only temporary.

If you are driving to your surgery appointment, you will need to arrange someone to drive you home on the day of your procedure. Everyone heals at different speeds and you should not drive until you feel completely comfortable doing so. Recovery time for ICL is fairly short and most patients can see well enough to return to work the day after surgery. You will return for a check-up at Moorfields a few weeks after your surgery.

Why choose Moorfields Private?

Moorfields Private Eye Hospital is renowned for its world-class quality of care. All our surgeons work at the top of their profession and hold accredited consultant positions at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. All consultants who perform ICL surgery are Visian ICL accredited.

When you undergo a vision correction procedure with us, you will be able to choose your preferred consultant surgeon. They will supervise you throughout all your visits from start to finish, overseeing every aspect of your care. This ensures you receive a service with complete continuity and feel completely comfortable at each stage.

Your vision is so important and at Moorfields Private, we pride ourselves on delivering an exceptional experience with the best results.

Am I suitable for implantable contact lenses?

This treatment is commonly used to treat high glasses prescriptions and astigmatism. It is also considered to be a safer choice than laser eye surgery for anyone with pre-existing cornea or eye surface problems.

Even though younger patients can be particularly suitable for ICL, you need to be over 18 years old to have the treatment and you also need to have a stable glasses prescription.

To give you a guide of the prescriptions that can be treated successfully, we would recommend up to -18.00D for short sightedness, +10.00D for long sightedness and up to + or -4.50D of astigmatism. If your prescription is beyond this, ICL surgery can be followed a few months later with laser treatment to correct any residual focusing issues.

If you have other eye problems, such as cataracts, glaucoma or recurrent inflammation, then ICL may not be a suitable option. You will also need an eye scan at your first consultation to check that you have enough room in the front of your eye to fit the ICL safely.

How much does ICL surgery cost?

Implantable contact lens surgery at Moorfields Private is more affordable than you might think. The fee for your first consultation will be from £200 and the full cost of your onward treatment will be confirmed once you have agreed your personalised plan with your consultant.

As a guide, this will be from £3,500 per eye. This price is inclusive of your consultant’s professional fees, as well as your personalised care plan, detailed diagnostic tests and checks, and a comprehensive programme for your aftercare.

What are the ICL risks?

There is a small risk with all forms of eye surgery, and these will be discussed with you in detail at your consultation. However, your chances of having problems are significantly reduced when you put yourself in expert hands and an approved clinical environment. You can rest assured that Moorfields Private Eye Hospital has a well-established safety track record with ICL treatment.

Next steps

The only way to know which vision correction treatment is the right option for you is by booking an appointment with one of our specialist consultant eye surgeons. Here are the next steps to take towards better vision:

  1. Book an appointment with one of our consultants.
  2. After you’ve met with the consultant and are happy to proceed after your “cooling off period”, book a date for surgery.
  3. After your surgery, you can usually return home on the same day.
  4. You can shower from day one, but most surgeons recommend no swimming for a week and no contact sports for a month after the treatment.
  5. Come back for post-surgery check ups and an annual review with your consultant or high-street optometrist

Further information

For more information, read our blogs:

  • Implantable contact lens (ICL) surgery
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Implantable contact lens (ICL) surgery consultants

A picture of Mr Julian Stevens

Mr Julian Stevens


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Bruce Allan

Mr Bruce Allan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Romesh Angunawela

Mr Romesh Angunawela


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Mark Wilkins

Mr Mark Wilkins


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Ms Laura de Benito-Llopis

Ms Laura de Benito-Llopis


Consultant Ophthalmologist

A picture of Mr Daniel Gore

Mr Daniel Gore


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Linda Ficker

Miss Linda Ficker


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Martin Watson

Mr Martin Watson


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Alexander Ionides

Mr Alexander Ionides


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Vincenzo Maurino

Mr Vincenzo Maurino


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

22.03.2019

Six Moorfields Private consultants make The Ophthalmologist Power List 2019
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12.03.2019

Moorfields Private rated outstanding for surgery services by the Care Quality Commission
Inspectors said care is innovative with excellent support available for patients
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10.03.2020

Coronavirus update
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Paying for treatment

Private Medical Insurance

If you are covered by private medical insurance, please verify the details with your insurer prior to arrival and if possible, obtain a pre-authorisation number.

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You don’t have to be insured to come to Moorfields Private. Many of our patients pay for their own treatment.

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​If a company, employer or other third party agrees to settle your account, they will be required to provide a letter of guarantee along with a deposit.

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