The Important Restrictions On Exercise After ICL Surgery

The Important Restrictions On Exercise After ICL Surgery

What’s better than getting your heart racing in the gym or out on the running track? Doing that all without needing any glasses or contact lenses! That’s partly why you got ICL surgery in the first place. Glasses and contact lenses can be such a drag when you are active and working up a sweat. But after ICL surgery, you will have to put those workouts on pause for a short duration.

During the first week after ICL, it is important to hold off on exercise. Strenuous activity can potentially cause the tiny ICL wounds to leak and increase the risk of you developing an infection. However, once the incisions heal over the first week, it is safe to resume those activities.

Following those exercise precautions will allow you to have the optimal recovery from ICL surgery. After-all, while infections are very rare, it is still best to prevent them as much as possible. It's a fair enough trade, give up one week of exercise in order to maintain healthy eyes after ICL surgery.

What Are The Exercise Restrictions After ICL Surgery?

You can actually do some light activity after ICL surgery. This includes activities such as walking. The activities that you want to avoid, however, are more vigorous and strenuous activities. During these activities, the pressure of the eye can increase.

Exercises in a gym fall right into this category. Especially lifting weights.

It is not uncommon during these activities to stress and strain. When you are lifting a large stack of plates and pushing for your new personal max, you will more than likely strain as you work your muscles pushing or pulling against the weights. If you hang out in a gym long enough, you will hear weight lifters grunt and groan as they strain and release their held breath. You may even see their veins popping out on their forehead or see their face become red.

As you stress and strain, you may not be fully breathing in and breathing out. You may be holding your breath and not exhaling like you normally would. This leads to something called the Valsalva maneuver. By holding your breath, you increase the pressure within chest which can lead to an increase in pressure in your head and eyes.

And weight lifters do have a measurable increase in the pressure of their eye! (at least during the exercise; the good news is that after exercise for both aerobic activity like running and anaerobic activity like weight lifting, the pressure of the eye will actually go down)

While the Valsalva maneuver is more common with weight lifting, it can happen in other exercises as well. When pushing yourself in other sports, there can be times in which you are holding your breath. This is especially the case if you are going for a sprint while running or taking on a new hill on your bicycle. This leads to the same risk of an increase in the pressure of the eye.

How Does Increased Pressure Matter After ICL Surgery?

The unique feature of the ICL lens is that it is inserted within the eye to correct vision. During ICL surgery, a tiny incision in made within the cornea. The ICL lens is rolled up to fit through that incision. This lens then unfolds and is tucked-in within the eye. A very quick and straightforward procedure.

But after ICL surgery, this tiny incision has to heal over. From the beginning of the surgery, this incision is created to be watertight. No sutures or stitches are needed to close this incision. With some gentle irrigation of water into the incision at the end of the procedure, the incision closes right up. But right after the surgery, the incision isn’t as strong as it is going to become. Over the course of the first week, this incision strengthens even more as a subtle amount of scarring seals it up.

So during the first week, we want to prevent this incision from leaking or opening back up again. A leaky incision can provide an avenue for bacteria to get into the eye and cause an infection. Fortunately it is extremely rare for this to happen. (and also fortunately even if it does happen, the production of the aqueous fluid within the eye is designed to wash away the bacteria before it can gain a foothold and grow within the eye). So we just don’t see infections after ICL surgery.

But we want to keep it that way. We don’t want to tempt bacteria. Thus we want to keep the incision sealed up.

There isn’t much that will open up the tiny incision. Being hit in the eye or pushing on the eye can cause it to happen. So definitely avoid those as much as possible.

But having a high eye pressure within the eye can also increase the risk that the incision will leak.

If you go back to your physics days, water flows from high pressure to low pressure. Outside the eye is low pressure. Inside the eye is higher pressure. But the sealed incision provides a barrier the fluid has to overcome in order for it to leak out. Increasing the pressure inside the eye, however, can cause the fluid to overcome this barrier and potentially leak out.

All that being said, it is still uncommon for an increase in pressure to cause the incision to leak. But being as conservative as possible while the eyes are healing up can prevent your recovery from becoming derailed.

And thus, for the first week after ICL surgery, it is best to avoid strenuous activity. Activity which will cause you to stress or strain.


After ICL surgery, you should avoid doing strenuous exercises for one week following the procedure. This will help ensure that your tiny incision remains watertight and that you don’t develop an infection. After that first week, you’ll be free to enjoy all sorts of exercises without the burden of glasses or contact lenses.

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