• Difference Between ICL Surgery and LASIK

Difference Between ICL Surgery and LASIK

If your eye­sight isn’t all that great, you’ve prob­a­bly done a lit­tle research into LASIK and per­haps even ICL surgery.

LASIK has been around for decades. It was devel­oped in the 1970s, and approved by the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion to cor­rect eye­sight defi­cien­cies quite a bit lat­er, in 1995. Just ten years lat­er, anoth­er type of cor­rec­tive eye surgery, Implantable Col­lamer Lens, or ICL, was approved.

So what’s the dif­fer­ence when you com­pare LASIK vs ICL?

ICL Surgery vs LASIK: There is a Difference!

ICL surgery implants a new lens to work with the one you already have. The new lens is insert­ed between the exist­ing one and the cornea through a tiny inci­sion.

LASIK, which stands for Laser-Assist­ed In Situ Ker­atomileu­sis, actu­al­ly reshapes the eye­ball itself to cor­rect vision.

Both are surg­eries and both have pret­ty good results. Notably, ICL was devel­oped not as an alter­na­tive to LASIK but as an option for patients who weren’t good can­di­dates for LASIK because their myopia (near­sight­ed­ness) is con­sid­ered too severe for it, or have dry eyes or a thin cornea. While ICL surgery makes an inci­sion in the cornea, LASIK actu­al­ly reshapes it, so it can’t be too thin.

What makes a cornea thin?

  • Ker­a­to­conus, a dis­ease of the cornea that caus­es its mid­dle to thin and bulge out. It’s the most com­mon form of corneal dis­ease in the US and affects teenagers and young adults. It may be genet­ic.
  • Eye rub­bing, which may be caused by ker­a­to­conus and make it worse!
  • Injury to the deep­er lay­ers of the cornea, par­tic­u­lar­ly tears or splits.

Here are two major dif­fer­ences between the two:

1.  ICL surgery isn’t per­ma­nent. Lens­es can be removed, and some may need to be removed and replaced over time.

2. Patients with astig­ma­tism should not have ICL. LASIK can repair this, but it may return over time in some patients.


LASIK vs ICL: Is One Safer or More Successful?

Now that you know the dif­fer­ence between the two, the log­i­cal fol­low-up ques­tion is prob­a­bly which one is safer or more suc­cess­ful, assum­ing you’re a can­di­date for either pro­ce­dure.

There are major kinds of LASIK to con­sid­er — so-called blade­less LASIK, and tra­di­tion­al LASIK. Both cut into the eye, but they use dif­fer­ent tools to cre­ate the LASIK flap. Both pro­ce­dures have extreme­ly high safe­ty and suc­cess rates. It’s best to fol­low your surgeon’s rec­om­men­da­tion, and like many arti­sans, some sur­geons just pre­fer one type of tool over anoth­er.

The only notable dif­fer­ence in terms of safe­ty is that some sur­geons think tra­di­tion­al LASIK may be safer for patients with glau­co­ma.

As for over­all LASIK vs ICL safe­ty, there’s real­ly no clear-cut win­ner. It’s easy to assume that ICL, which makes a min­i­mal cut, would be safer but the evi­dence just doesn’t show it. Both are quite safe. The main dif­fer­ence is that ICL can pro­vide a bet­ter out­come for cer­tain patients.

As eye sur­geons con­tin­ue to become more skilled in dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing between can­di­dates for ICL vs LASIK, patient out­comes will improve. Keep in mind, too, that LASIK con­tin­ues to be the bench­mark for sur­gi­cal­ly treat­ing myopia and hyper­opia (far­sight­ed­ness), and ICL has some catch­ing up to do.

Both surg­eries are done on an out­pa­tient basis, and patients go home the same day. Recov­ery time for both surg­eries is with­in a day or two.

The Money Factor in LASIK vs ICL

LASIK gen­er­al­ly costs about $2200 per eye, while ICL can cost as much as $5,000. Few insur­ance com­pa­nies cov­er either pro­ce­dure, although improved eye­sight can cer­tain­ly increase per­son­al safe­ty.

We offer sig­nif­i­cant dis­counts for refrac­tive surgery. See our web­site for details.

January 11th, 2019|Comments Off on Difference Between ICL Surgery and LASIK

About the Author:

Born in Connecticut and raised in Upstate New York , Dr. Stetson graduated Cum Laude from Colgate University in New York, and then earned an MD degree with honors at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He distinguished himself again in residency at the Albany Medical Center, where he obtained the highest percentile in the Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Examinations. Dr. Stetson has performed more than 50,000 refractive surgeries and has been on staff at Diamond Vision since 2004, before becoming Medical Director in 2006.


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