What are my alternatives to ICL surgery?

Many patients are often told they are only a candidate for ICL surgery due to their prescription. However, as a clinic, we are often able treat many of these patients with refractive surgery due to the level of surgical expertise and our in-house technology. To give you a clearer picture of options, we have compared them below…

Professor Reinstein explains who may be suitable for ICL surgery…

Youtube video link


Glasses are safe, relatively inexpensive, and well tolerated. However, depending on the correction, the lenses may be thick, may make images larger or smaller, and may impair your peripheral vision. Glasses can also be knocked off or broken, leaving you to manage with blurry vision until another pair can be found.

Contact lenses

When fitted and used properly, contact lenses are effective and about as safe as the most modern forms of refractive surgery. They come in a range of materials and vary in comfort and oxygen transmission to the surface of your eye. Because the lens rests directly on the outer layer of the eye, not everyone can tolerate them. They can also be less effective for certain conditions such as astigmatism and presbyopia.

Contact lenses should also only be worn for a certain amount of time each day, with glasses required the rest of the time. Potential complications include allergic reactions, infections, scratches, ulcers or other corneal injuries. The safest type of contact lens is the daily disposable. Approximately 2% of contact lens wearers seek medical help each year due to keratitis (infection).

Laser Eye Surgery

LASIK, ReLEx SMILE, PRK or LASEK involve using a laser to remove tissue from the cornea to reshape the outer surface, thereby changing the refraction. Laser eye surgery can be used to correct near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and *astigmatism*. However, the amount of correction is limited depending on the thickness of the cornea and other factors.

As laser eye surgery is performed on the surface of the eye, it is associated with a lower overall risk profile than intraocular lens surgery, so we offer this where possible. Therefore, if you are considering ICL surgery at London Vision Clinic, this is usually because it is not possible to fully correct your refractive error with laser eye surgery. However, laser eye surgery can be used in combination with ICL surgery to correct any residual refractive error which may not have been fully corrected by the intraocular lens – a technique called Bioptics.

Professor Reinstein talks through when you would be told ICL surgery is advised over laser eye surgery at London Vision Clinic

Youtube video link

Clear lens exchange (CLE), Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) or Permanent Lens Replacement (PLR)

These are all the same procedure which is used for cataract surgery, where your own internal crystalline lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic implant. CLE should ideally only be used as an alternative when laser eye surgery or ICL surgery cannot be performed.