Is ICL Better Than Lasik?

Does the ICL eye surgery really give you better vision than LASIK?

Doctor Answers 8

Intraocular Contact Lens(ICL) versus LASIK

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These are both great procedures. LASIK is a procedure totally performed on the surface of the eye, so it is automatically less invasive than an ICL. We do use an ICL in patients who have a very high degree of nearsightedness and it has been proven to be very effective with terrific vision afterwards that is at least as good as LASIK, sometimes better. Your best bet is to choose the very best surgeon, get a thorough evaluation, and be sure all of your questions are answered. The surgeon should direct you towards the best procedure. If you ever feel the surgeon is choosing a procedure for any other reason than the very best result for you, then get out of there and get another opinion!

Baltimore Ophthalmologist

ICL or Implantable Collamer Lens vs LASIK

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The ICL is a rapid, procedure used to implant a lens inside the eye to correct high nearsightedness. This procedure does not involve removal of tissue nor reshaping of the cornea, thus, the quality of vision has been shown in several studies to be better than LASIK for high prescriptions.

The ICL offers another procedure in the doctor's "bag" to correct refractive errors or prescriptions of the eye. It is important to seek the care of an eyeMD to determine which procedure is best for you.

Dr. Feldman

Sandy Feldman, MD
San Diego Ophthalmologist

ICL can sometimes be a better choice than LASIK, but not always

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The ICL is a lens which is placed inside the eye to correct refractive error. It has the potential advantage of being removable, and does not require the cornea to be modified as in LASIK. It does require a small hole to be made in the iris or colored part of the eye, and can cause cataracts in some cases. It is also more expensive to have performed than LASIK, potentially can have more serious complications since it is within the interior of the eye, and currently is not approved for correcting astigmatism.

The ICL is a lens made by Staar which is placed inside the eye during a surgical procedure to correct nearsightedness. The Staar lens is made of a very biocompatible material and therefore does not cause inflammation within the eye. It may soon also be able to correct astigmatism when this version is approved by the FDA. It is one of several brands of lenses that go into the eye along with the natural lens to improve the vision as opposed to LASIK which works by reshaping the front corneal tissue of the eye.

The ICL is most often used in high corrections or in cases where the cornea is too thin or unstable preventing LASIK. Some doctors offer the ICL as a "premium procedure" but it has not been proven to provide results better than LASIK in most cases. In cases where the ICL does not fully correct the vision it needs to be removed/replaced or LASIK can be done in addition to "fine tune" the results.

In summary, the current status of the ICL is that it is potentially a good option for certain situations but at this time is used mostly for cases where LASIK is not a good option.

Jon Dishler, MD, FACS
Greenwood Village Ophthalmologist

Tools in the tool shed

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I agree with most of these posts.  Refractive surgery is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  For most of these inquiries ("which procedure, if any, is right for me"), the answer depends on age, general eye health, expectations following the procedure and safety profile of each procedure.  Furthermore, I will often encourage my patients to have the procedure that will last the longest (lifetime, if possible).  That way, this can be a one-off procedure. We have a lot of exciting technology at our fingertips. The more tools your surgeon has, and the more experience/expertise he or she has in using those tools, the better your result is typically going to be.  Lastly, I highly recommend a thorough consultation with your surgeon to discuss risks and realistic expectations.  In other words, these are your eyes. Don't undervalue face-to-face discussion about your options with your surgeon.

Andrew Kopstein, MD
Tacoma Ophthalmologist

ICL compared to LASIK

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ICL should not be considered an inferior alternative to LASIK. It very frequently produces quality of vision superior to that of LASIK or PRK especially for higher prescriptions. This is possible for 2 reasons:
  1. The ICL doesn't change the corneal shape, thus preserving the natural corneal a-sphericity. Corneal a-sphericity is what gives us the ability to see in high contrast day or night, as it compensates for the so called spherical abberations. The best camera lenses are always aspheric.
  2. ICL produces crisper vision because it is physically closer to the retina than the corneal refractive procedures. As anyone who ever tried to cast a shadow puppet knows, the closer you are to the surface on which the shadow/image is projected the sharper and better defined the image. Hence, quality of vision increases in the following order - glasses < contacts < LASIK < ICL since the refractive element that corrects the vision is progressively closer to the retina. 

Arthur Benjamin, MD
West Hollywood Ophthalmologist

ICL versus LASIK, depends on the patient

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There are is no best surgery to correct vision, there is only the best surgery for you. Your goal should be to find a doctor who specializes in refractive surgery and is comfortable will all the different procedures available. Once you have found a doctor, have a discussion of the pros and cons of each surgery as they relate to your eyes and make a decision together.

Ilan Cohen, MD
New York Ophthalmologist


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Both LASIK and ICL have advantages and disadvantages.  Neither is superior to the other in all cases and a surgeon who performs both will advise individual patients which treatment would be preferred and the reason for that preference.  High prescriptions would begin to favor ICL particularly for patient with large pupils and/or thin corneas.  Low prescriptions would tend to favor LASIK.  A comprehensive eye examination would be necessary to advise a patient which treatment would be best for them.  A patient could then be involved in weighing the advantages of the various options as well as the option of using glasses or contacts. 

Jay Bansal, MD
San Francisco Ophthalmologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Sometimes Visian is better and sometimes LASIK is better

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Honestly, there are studies that support Visian giving better vision and studies supporting LASIK giving better vision.  However, each procedure has its limits on what refractive errors it can correct.  For example, LASIK can correct the range of –8.00 to –10.00 safely while Vision correction can range from –3.00 to –15.00.  Visian may be used to reduce nearsightedness for the –15.00 to –20.00 range. LASIK can correct up to –4.00 to –15.00 of astigmatism, whereas the Visian lens to correct astigmatism is not yet approved by the FDA in the USA.  It is best to discuss the options with a surgeon who offers both procedures and can help you select the best one for you.  Many factors must be considered such as corneal topography (shape) and corneal tissue thickness (pachymetry).

Christopher Coad, MD
New York Ophthalmologist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.