A man getting eye surgery done.

Does ICL Surgery Hurt?

Posted on November 24, 2017

ICL surgery or as it is called by your doctor Implantable Collamer Lens Implantation surgery is a relatively quick, and pain free procedure. Like LASIK surgery, the procedure is done on an out-patient basis, that is, you walk in for surgery, and can leave the hospital about one to two hours surgery, and there is no need for in-patient care or admission into the hospital. However, unlike LASIK, no laser is required for ICL implantation, in fact, the surgical procedure has more in common with intraocular lens implantation that is carried out after cataract extraction.

Is the pre-operative evaluation painful?

The preoperative evaluation is completely painless, but takes around two hours for a complete, comprehensive check. It involves dilation of your eyes, to evaluate your retina, as well as to confirm your total refractive error. This means that you should carry your sunglasses when you go for your preoperative check up (dilation makes your eyes sensitive to bright sunlight for two to three hours) and should not drive yourself back from the clinic.

On the day of surgery, you will be asked to come prepared to spend about three to four hours in the hospital. The nurses and other technicians will help you get comfortable and change into OT clothes and put some eye drops.

Depending on surgeon discretion, and your preference, you will be scheduled for either one eye surgery, or both eyes to be operated on the same day sequentially.

What about pain during surgery?

The ICL surgery is usually performed in less than 30 minutes. Before the procedure, the nurse and/ or OT technicians will instil eyedrops that will make the eyes numb. You might experience a mild sensation for less than a minute once the anaesthetic agent (local or topical proparacain eyedrops) is instilled in the eye, but the eye becomes numb soon after.

In case you are anxious, or if the doctor feels that it is required, you may also be given a mild sedative.

What about pain after the surgery?

The surgery itself is pain free and does not take much time. You will however be asked to wait for an hour following surgery, after which your doctor will examine your vision, eye pressure and the eye for any minor imperfections. You will then be prescribed steroid and antibiotic drops to use as at home, and asked to come back for a review the next day.

Similar to intraocular lens surgery recovery, your vision will be blurred for the first twenty four hours after surgery, and you doctor will advise you to not drive for this time, and avoid strenuous eye activity. The pain in the ally described as a foreign body sensation in the eye, heaviness or grittiness in the eye. Your doctor may advise a mild anti inflammatory tablet as well, to be used at your discretion. Any minor pain associated with the ICL eye surgery can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, in case your doctor hasn’t advised it.

You will notice a marked improvement in your vision the next day. The optimal effects of the implantable contact lens procedure takes about a week to become apparent, and each day makes you realise how much brighter the world really is. The total recovery period for ICL eye surgery is relatively short, and you can go back to your usual routine within a few days.

You will be advised to see your doctor at the end of one week of surgery, after which your eyedrops will be tapered off, and you will advised to go back to your routine lifestyle. Most doctors will advise you to avoid pollution, strenuous exercise and swimming for about a month after surgery.

That said, the one word answer to the question “is ICL surgery painful”, is: No. The surgery and the post operative period both are remarkably pain free and short, making ICL the ideal choice for freedom from glasses in the subset of patients that are eligible for it.


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