What Are The Disadvantages of ICL Surgery?
ICL surgery isn’t as mainstream as other forms of vision correction such as laser eye surgery. There has got to be a reason. Right? If there were ZERO disadvantages than of course ICL would be the most popular way to correct vision. So what are the disadvantages to ICL surgery? (when compared to laser eye surgery)
The biggest disadvantage is that ICL surgery has a high cost
Unfortunately ICL isn’t the cheapest way to correct vision. To correct your vision with ICL, a special lens is placed within the eye. You can't go down to your local Target and pick up the ICL lens. This lens is specially ordered through the manufacturer, Staar. Because of how precise this lens corrects vision, this lens must be manufactured with a very high degree of accuracy to achieve this goal. All these manufacturing standards and the technology built into this lens come at a cost (see also What Does ICL Surgery Cost?). While the technology behind laser eye surgery still has a cost per use, it still ends up being cheaper than the cost of the ICL lens.
On top of the cost of the ICL lens, most ICL surgeries take place in a surgery center. This adds extra costs. Surgery centers require staffing and equipment which all add extra expenses. An in-office surgery suite can save some of money but will still be a little more expensive than using a laser set-up in office.
You can try to cut down on some costs of ICL, but it's near impossible to make it the same price as laser eye surgery.
ICL surgery is a slightly more involved process
Getting your vision corrected with ICL involves a few more eye doctor visits. Prior to the procedure, extra visits may be required to obtain accurate measurements of the eye. Following the procedure, you can have extra visits to check your eye pressure and ensure that everything is healing up the way it should be.
The ICL surgery itself also takes a little extra time. Starting before the surgery, your eyes are dilated. It takes time for the eyes to fully dilate (about 20-30 minutes) and even longer for the eyes to un-dilate (4-6 hours up to a day or two). The vision recovers very quickly with ICL (see also What Is The Recovery After ICL Surgery?), but is delayed somewhat by the necessary dilation.
Fortunately, many ICL providers operate on both eyes on the same day so that you only have to go through the process once. In order to perform both eyes on the same day, each eye needs to be treated as a separate surgery with separate equipment and separate sterile technique. While the surgery itself only adds a little extra time (it only takes about 10 minutes for an ICL surgery), there is additional downtime to set up the room and switch between the two different eyes.
Between these two disadvantages, sometimes it's just easier to correct vision with laser eye surgery. This is especially the case for patients for patients who have a choice between the two different procedures. Mild nearsighted patients will do very well with either lasik or ICL. Until the ease and the cost of ICL can approach that of lasik, lasik will be the preferred procedure for those patients. But for the highly nearsighted individuals, the benefits of ICL WILL outweigh the annoying disadvantages. The unparalleled vision make it worth it. After-all, when you look back from the future, the extra costs and involvement will look smaller and smaller with time.
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