Friday, November 27, 2009

ICL Surgery Update: I have glasses

My post(s) about my ICL surgery back in December 06 (see My ICL Eye Surgery Experience, Part I and My ICL Experience, Part II) have had longevity. (In fact, do a Google search for ICL surgery and my blog is the third result, yikes!) I occasionally get requests for updates about how things are going, usually from people considering the surgery themselves, and since it's been almost three years at this point, I think I should probably oblige.

So if the dog-oriented followers will bear with me...

ICL (implantable contact lens or intracorneal lens), also known as IOL (intraocular lens), is essentially a contact lens that is surgically implanted into one's eyeball in order to correct vision. ICL is an alternative to Lasik when Lasik isn't possible because a person has extreme near- or farsightedness.

Before I had the ICL procedure done, I was -11D in my right eye and -12.5D in my left. If I had gone with Lasik, I would have had to have it done twice to get to 20/20--and unfortunately, my cornea wasn't thick enough to handle Lasik twice.

You can read more about the procedure and my early impressions of the surgery at the links above. I came out of the surgery with 20/20 vision that lasted for about two years. (My left eye was not quite 20/20, but my right eye made up for it.)

Three years later, my vision has shifted somewhat. This wasn't unexpected. First, my vision is eternally creeping further into the negative Ds, especially in my weak left eye. And second, even the slightest shift of the implanted lenses can cause blurriness.

But the change is minor. I don't need glasses for anything except driving. Even then, I'm not legally required to wear the glasses. I just feel a little more comfortable with them on when I'm in a strange place trying to read street name signs, or when I'm driving at night.

It was actually sort of neat to walk into an Eyemasters and buy a pair of basic frames and basic lenses for $50. I've never gotten glasses at that price before. With my old prescription, I used to buy special lightweight lenses, special frames for the lenses, special non-reflective coating, special frosting on the edge to cut down on refraction, and on and on. The cost was always around $400+. And I had to wait 2 weeks turnaround, because everything had to be special ordered. Now, my prescription is so tiny, I can get the cheapest possible option and it works great.

I do still have halos around light sources in many situations. This is a result of a misplaced hole in my left iris during the initial preparation for the ICL (the YAG iridotomy). It's not a big deal for me, though it makes nighttime activities, movies, and laser tag a little challenging.

Would I do the surgery again, even knowing that I'd have to use glasses to drive three years down the road? Even knowing I'd have halos forever?

Yes. Absolutely.

I spent twenty years trapped in glasses and/or contacts. The freedom I gained from the ICL is difficult to describe. Some nights I still reach for my face to put my glasses on the bedside table, only to grasp air.

Not everyone will feel the same way, I'm sure. But I'm pleased with my results--looking back with the benefit of three years' retrospect.


Dennis the Vizsla said...

It sounds like your uncorrected vision must be even worse than my wife's -- she can't see ten feet without her glasses or contacts. Glad the surgery has worked out for you!

Brownie said...

oh wow... my vision is almost as bad as yours was prior surgery and I am not a candidate for lasik - i'm glad to hear of your experience... maybe I will be able to afford the surgery one day!

Anonymous said...

I thought my eyes were bad pre-lasik. Thanks to good genetics I had really thick corneas, but was only -8.5 and -6.25 respectively.

I just glad that things worked out.

Maybe we should have a fuzzy vision club! :)

Jesse said...

My girlfriend had icl surgery in both eyes in march 2009 (it's been 9 months). Her prescription was -10.5 (1.25D of astigmatism)and -9.25 (1.0D of astigmatism). She has pretty bad halos at night (the optic's of the implants are smaller than her dilated pupils at night), but still says she can see better in some ways at night than before the surgery. Her vision is excellent during the day (20/30 in one eye, and 20/40 in the other since she still has the astigmatism). She couldn't be happier with the results though, since she's no longer dependent on glasses. I wanted to send a thanks for your posts, since yours was one of many that helped with the decision of going ahead with the procedure. The surgery has made her much more comfortable while riding the motorcycle (with a helmet), and while wearing a SCBA mask on the fire department (used to need thick lenses mounted in her mask). If anyone is thinking of this procedure, due the research. There are other blogs out there, and a lot of study info, just have to search around quite a bit. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this up -- I just came back from a check-up today, about three months after getting my second implant done.

My eyes were both around -14, so I was way out of the range for lasik. I live in Hong Kong, so I had my implants done here.

Overall, my results are excellent. My right eye tests at 20/20 or even 20/15, with astigmatism corrected. My left eye was left intentionally undercorrected (i.e. monovision) for reading, since I'm in my early 40s; it's not quite as sharp as my right eye, but the discrepancy is not noticeable when I have both eyes open.

I found the iridotomy unpleasant, as you did, and also thought the lens insertion itself was incredibly easy. I did have complications, though. When my first eye was done, I likely blinked too much in the hours after my surgery, and I ended up with a big abrasion on my cornea. This was quite painful, and necessitated an entire weekend with my eyes shut to get it to heal over. But then that eye cleared up very quickly, and I had just about perfect vision in a couple of weeks. My left eye had no such acute problems, but it's taken several months for my vision to completely stabilize, since my cornea has been drying out very easily in the course of my days. But it's pretty much fine now as well; I just get a touch of blurriness after long computer sessions.

So my overall take on ICL is simple: if you can afford it, and you are a good candidate, by all means go for it. Yes, there's some risk, but if you've already lived as many years as I have struggling with severe myopia and the necessity of juggling glasses and contacts, you'll be far less squeamish about the whole situation than someone with normal vision or mild vision problems would be.

Anonymous said...

Hi there - Thanks for your blog posts :) I had an appointment and found out that I am not suitable for Lasik but am eligible for ICL... your blog has been very informative and a helpful part of the decision making process!

Sandra said...

Very insightful, if you'll pardon the pun. I'm -10.50 and -11.25 with thin corneas. My Yag procedure is Monday - 1/25, first eye is 2/4 and second eye is 2/8. I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait. And even if the YAG PI hurts, darnit, I had my second baby with no medication until the last 15 minutes of labor, so ... I'm convinced NOTHING hurts as much as that. 30 years of glasses-- haven't been able to wear contacts in years (and they were NEVER comfortable), so I'm looking forward to a real change!!!

Luo said...

This is an amazing blog.
I will have my YAG next Monday as well and my doc will do both of my eyes on 2/5.
Good luck to both of us.

Sandra said...

Hi guys. I had the Yag PI done on my left eye yesterday. It wasn't painful, but it was uncomfortable and I didn't like the fact that I couldn't move. Apparently, I REALLY didn't like the fact that I couldn't move because as soon as he was done on the left, I fainted. Yes, they tell me I was out for around 3 minutes. They wheeled me out to the recovery room and put a cold washcloth on my forehead and took my blood pressure. After about 30 minutes the doctor came and asked if I wanted to attempt the right eye. I still felt horrible, so I said no. "For what it's worth," he said, "people who faint once don't usually do it on the second eye." (Ha.) Anyhow, after an hour, I still felt really bad, and then I threw up. Then I felt MUCH better. What a mess, and so totally embarrassing. So now we're going to do the right eye the same morning that I'm having the lens put into my left eye - next Thursday, 2/4. I'm hoping that I can get the sedative first thing in the morning BEFORE the Yag PI on the right and the left lens instead of in the middle of the two procedures. Man, what a day.

zequn2001 said...

Hi, I also want to do the ICL surgery because my eyes are terrible. However, I am still not very sure that I should do it now or should I wait? I want to know more about your situation. Send me a email to if you are convenient.Thank you so much.

Sandra said...

Hi all - well, I had the YAG PI on my right eye today and didn't faint (thank goodness). This one was a LOT shorter than the left eye, for some reason. Then I had the lens insertion on the left eye. I don't remember a thing-- whatever sedative they used sure worked wonders!

However, I'm still waiting for my left eye to return to normalcy because I can't focus on anything close up with it. Right now I'm wearing a patch and my glasses so I can see out of my "bad" right eye with glasses. The doctor's office says it can take maybe 6-8 hours for that eye to get back to normal. Gosh, I hope it's soon....

Follow up tomorrow. Right eye on Monday.

Stay tuned...

the man said...

Hi, I have -21.0 prescription in both eyes. And my left eye has 4.0 astigmatism. Would icl surgery work for me?

Sandra said...

You'd definitely need to talk with an eye doctor on that. The toric lenses haven't been approved by the FDA yet. I had -2 astig in the left and -0.5 in the right. The right has all but gone away (been masked, as the doctor said) but the left is still quite noticeable and the doctor is going to do something called a "limbal relaxing" (sp? on the limbal) in June to take care of the rest, but I don't know if that can be done for -4. I also don't know if these lenses can deal with a prescription like yours. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

WoW, that is really great
I am supposed to do ICL next Sunday ! and the doctor told me that there will be still need for glasses for estegmatism ! they didnt tell me about the YAG!! which I suppose h will be doing the same day of the operation.
he told me that Iam going to do the right eye first and after only a week I'll be doing the left eye!!

I read all the comments , I am really worried about the Haloes :(

I live in Egypt , the price of the eye is 8000 EGP both eyes will cost 16000 eyes wich means 3000 USD !!

My contacts r from Germany!!
I am really afraid of two things now , first the Hallos!! second that I should be wairing Glasses!!

am -12.5 left eye, with -.5 istegmatism and -10 right eye , with -1 istegmatism

I work on the computer everyday from 7.5 am to 4 pm wairing lences as I always wair them outdoors coz I hate how I look with this thik glasses !!! after going back home I get red of my lences and wair glasses as a must coz my eyes gets toooo tiered of the lences and the dehidration that kills me even using refresh eyes drops regularry

anyway ... I need ur help
should I go for it ??? or not???? today is 4/5/2010 my operation will be for the right eye 9/5/2010 !! so should I do it or not ???

another important question as the hot summer is coming up and I love swimming , will I be able to swim this summer without having the problems with see or pool water?

should I have sick leave at my work , and for how long?

and until I do the left eye, how am I going to see only one eye operated , it seems that I should get red of the glass of my glasses for the right eye ;)

waiting for help plzz
yours Nihal

Maria Thayer said...

Thank you soooo much for posting! I had ICL surgery 2 weeks ago. It was nice to read your blog because it made me feel better about the halo situation. I have a question for you, after your surgery did you worry about the chances of developing cataracts or glaucoma? I am not sure why I am now thinking about it, after the surgery, but I was just wondering if you had the same experience after your procedure. I am happy to hear that you are doing well! I was also considering getting glasses for driving at night since the halos are annoying. Good night.


DaddyBowles said...

I felt like I was reading my own story about ICL when I read this article. I had mine done 4 years ago (the first patient of my doctor to do so) and did it for the same reasons and almost had the same perscription. 3 years later I started wearing glasses to drive at night and now I do wear them all the time. However, because they are a low perscription I don't mind. They are stylish and I choose to wear them over contacts. I agree that knowing I would have halo's (I only get them in 1 eye) and that I would still need glasses I would absolutely go through it again. I knew I buying myself to 20/20 temporarily so I got what I expected. And the iridotomy is definately the worst part.

Beth said...

I just found out today that I have neovascularization on the corneas in both my eyes and will probably not be able to continue wearing contact lenses. My eyes are -6.50 and -8.00 and I suffer from dry eye so the Doctor said I was a good candidate for ICL but not Lasik. He won't do anything until the blood vessels recede and the blood leaves them and that can take months. I found this blog while researching ICL and thought my experience might be of interest. FYI-my surgeon is going to do both eyes at once and promises me only a day or two of recovery time. Has that been all of your experience? The recovery time will determine when I have this done. So for now it's back to glasses which I've not worn for years!

Mr. JC said...

thanks for posting these amazing blog posts about your ICL experiences! i went to a lasik session tonight to see if i was a candidate, but i'm not since my mytopia is so high, just about the same as yours was. the doctor told me about icl, but it's so expensive! i'll definitely look into a lot more thanks to your blog! :)

Kim said...

I just had ICL done two weeks ago and today I did a Google search for "halos after ICL" and found your post. I felt like I was reading my own story :)

I thought other readers who are considering ICL might like to know about the complication I experienced. I would still recommend the surgery, but it's important to watch out for this.

Five days after my surgery, I woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible headache behind my right eye. It was the same awful headache I got when they gave me drops to shrink my pupils before doing the iridotomy. My vision in my right eye was cloudy and when I stood up I would black out in that eye. I had to be rushed to the doctor's office at 3 am for them to fix me. What happened is that the iridotomy holes in my right eye closed and the fluid built up, putting pressure on the optic nerve. They redid the iridotomy 4 times that day trying to get the holes bigger, and then once more a few days later, just to be sure. They even zapped my left eye a few times just to be sure those holes wouldn't close up too. It took a day or two for my eye to recover from the trauma, but it's fine now.

Since then, my right eye has been great, but I've been getting halos in my left eye when I'm around certain types of lights. I suspect that when they redid the iridotomy in the left eye that it somehow caused the halos. I asked the eye doctor and he said it was probably dryness, but I know it's not. I was hoping it would go away but it sounds like it might not. But you mentioned eye drops, so I'm going to ask about those!

lils said...

Hi, i am having the ICL surgery soon, i didnt want to research on this cause I knew i was going to get scared, and I'm so scared now, about the halos, the iridotomy and having the lens inside my eye moving! omg ! this is what i've red here ! also my grandpa had this surgery done long time ago, i dont know if its the same one though, and the lens got dirty, then he had surgery to get it cleaned up, and after that he had retinal detachment.. now he is totally blind.. im so scared.. have you guys ever heard about someone getting the lens dirty like my granpa?

and also like what did you do the first two days after the surgery since you cant do alot.. ?

thank you.
I'm only 20 and im so scared but im also sick and tired of the thick glasses, my nose is screaming for relief, and i was never able to wear contacts cause the pain was unbearable.

Jesse said...

I enjoyed reading your posts about ICL, especially since they were made so soon after the procedure itself was approved by the FDA. You were a pioneer in many ways!

I had ICL two weeks ago and now have 20/15 vision. The results have been truly amazing. Aside from some irritation immediately after the surgery and a couple of headaches over the following days, I've had no recovery issues.

I think that the ICL procedure has been greatly improved upon in the short time that it has been available, since I had both eyes done at the same time and the recovery was so quick and easy. However, I'll agree that getting zapped with a laser during the YAG iridotomy was miserable ... if only for a day!

And in regards to the most recent comment by lils -- I realize that it has been six months since you posted this, so you may be done with your ICL by now, but if not ... I would urge you to wait until you are a bit older. Your eyes are still subject to considerable change throughout your twenties, and the ICL is meant to be a near-permanent solution. Unless you're OK with returning to glasses within a few years, I would wait to have ICL until your eyes have stabilized!

Thanks again for the updates -- it was interesting to read of another's experiences with ICL!

ICLscared said...

Can you let me know how is your eyesight now. I am planning to get ICL done, but kind of worried about the side effect. I am so sick of glasses and contact. My script is higher that your. Let me know please.

Jamie said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog and all the comments. I had ICL surgery two years ago and I still wake up every single morning AMAZED that I can open my eyes and actually SEE my alarm clock across the room! Sometimes when I go from my cold air-conditioned car outside to the hot and humid Houston air, I still expect my glasses to fog up, but it doesn't happen - because the glasses are no more! So, I am continually amazed and delighted with the results. I was extremely near-sighted but couldn't have LASIK because my corneas were too thin. I agree that the yag laser was the hardest part of the whole experience. The docs told me it wouldn't hurt but they were wrong. It was excruciating. But fortunately it was over quickly. I'm 48 now (so they just barely allowed me to have the surgery two years ago when I was 46) and they warned me that my vision would most likely worsen as I aged and I might have to get reading glasses, but so far I can still read just fine. I couldn't be happier and just wish it had been invented years ago.

Kimberly said...

I had the surgery in my right eye about 1 week ago and still quite blurry in my distance vision. Up close Im fine. I am having my left eye done tomorrow but am concerned that the right is so blurry still. Can anyone tell me how soon I may have clear vision in the right eye?

Caleb Spillyards said...

Kimberly how are your eyes doing now? im considering getting ICL as well.

Liza K said...

Somewhat randomly, I have -8.5 script and an astigmatism (so I need toric contact lenses). The place I went to this week said I could to ilasik or ICl, but ICL would give crisper vision. Although if I have ICL, I will also have to do iLasik (tiny bit) a couple of months later for my astigmatism (no extra charge). I'm totally up in the air.

Kimberly said...

I have an update to my December 6th post! I just went for my last follow up visit with my surgeon today. My close up vision is 20/20 and my distance vision in left eye is 20/25 and right is 20/30. Because of my astigmatism they cannot get any better, he tried to correct during surgery but it did not take. So I am going to my eye doctor to get glasses just for night driving. All in all I am extremely happy. I can see very well during the day, love the concept of no more glasses when I wake up to see the clocks! It has been a life changing experience and with the right surgeon anyone can have the same. I say to all that are thinking of having the surgery, go ahead. Ask alot of questions, the only part of the experience that was the most uncomfortable was the iridotomy prior to the implant. I just had scratchy eyes the day of but after that it all has been very very good. I almost have to pinch myself everyday just to believe that I can see without glasses or contacts after 35 years of having to!

VP said...

I've been told that I'm not a candidate for laser, inherited a thin cornea and my prescription is atrocious, -9R, -7.5L in contacts. My optometrist mentioned ICL to me and gave me a 15 page disclaimer. I said no way after reading it. ICL is still relatively new compared to laser and we don't know long-term outcomes. I'm fine with contacts and will only consider ICL if I'm going into a career, like policing, that doesn't allow glasses/contacts.

Susan said...

I'm very late to the discussion, but have just been introduced to ICL today after 25 years of contacts. I have extreme dry eye syndrome and think corneas, along with astigmatism and a prescription of -9 in the L and -8.5 in the R.

Happy Pit Bull, I'm curious which Houston eye doctor you used? I live in the Austin area as well and was recommended to go to Houston by Dr. Steven Dell.

Thanks to everyone who has posted! This blog came up immediately in my research and it's so helpful to read the comments.

Ash said...

I had my surgery on Feb 7, 2012, it's been little over 6 months now. My vision was -16 and -15.5. The lasers performed 1 or 2 weeks prior to surgery....was awful for me, I hated it. My doc told me he has never had anyone tear so much. I was scared in the beginning and after the 1st laser, man, I wanted it over...he said b/c I had dark brown eyes it would take more attempts. He said, either several attempts at a lower power or a few with higher power....ugh, never felt pain like that...I rather have bad

I too have halo kinda bothers me, but I'm happy not to have to wear glasses or contacts. Can the halo rings get fixed?

Even now, at times, I wake up in the morning and my eyes feel dry....Does anyone else get occasional dry eyes?

Sometime, I feel pressure, eye pressure, maybe it's sinus' or allegies. Anyone feel eye pressure at times?

Oh, I have .5 ast in both eyes, getting ast fixed is not yet approved by the FDA yet. Would anyone consider getting the surgery done outside the country to get the ast correct?

Enough from me. Ttyalllater :)

rebeccaelizabeth said...

Thanks for posting the update!
I am having my ICL surgery next week.. although I am slightly nervous because I am a -23 D... and I haven't come across anyone with a similar prescription yet to see the results.

To all those worried about the halos from the Iridotomy, it's probably going to happen but it's not a big deal. If any thing it's a little entertaining if your bored while driving on a sunny day.

If there is anyone who has had this procedure with a similar prescription to mine, please e-mail me at!

Thanks everyone :)