Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) Surgery

Vision Correction for Nearsightedness

For More Information 855-855-6484

Implantable collamer lens (ICL) surgery can improve moderate-to-extreme nearsightedness (myopia) in people with good eye health who are under age 50 and do not have cataracts. It may be an option if you’ve been told that you are not a candidate for laser correction surgery like LASIK or PRK because of moderate to extreme nearsightedness or keratoconus. 

Find an Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) Surgery Doctor
Matching Results
Filter Results
Filter by:
Use My Current Location
Located Near You
Loading Results
Showing of Doctors
Load More View All

What Is ICL Surgery?

An implantable collamer lens (ICL) is an artificial lens made of plastic and a collagen called collamer. During ICL surgery, a specially trained eye surgeon permanently implants the ICL between your eye’s natural lens and iris (the colored part of your eye). The ICL works with your natural lens to bend (refract) light on the retina, and this produces clearer vision. ICL surgery is an outpatient procedure that is performed in a sterile operating room to minimize the risk of infection. Surgery is performed on both on the same day. In most cases, glasses and/or contact lenses are no longer needed after surgery.

Hear the story of Allison's vision after ICL surgery. 

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

The ICL Process

A Complete, Free Eye Evaluation

You must be 18 or older to be considered for ICL surgery. To determine if you are a good candidate, you will undergo a complete evaluation of your eyes. You should not wear contact lenses the week before your evaluation. A technician will perform a basic eye exam, imaging, and diagnostic testing and will take measurements of your eyes. Then your eyes will be dilated, and an ophthalmologist will examine them to determine whether ICL surgery is an option for you. 

ICL Surgery and Insurance

Because ICL surgery is an elective procedure, it is not covered by most insurance plans. Our evaluation exams are free, and the cost includes the surgery, any additional corrections and procedures required for optimal vision, and appointments following surgery. We follow you closely, especially the year after surgery, to ensure the results meet your expectations. 

Request a Consultation

Request a consultation appointment for LASIK, PRK, clear lens exchange, intraocular lens exchange, or refractive lens exchange. 

What to Expect for ICL Surgery

Before Surgery

We will answer your questions and explain how to prepare, what surgery entails, and the recovery process. If you wear contact lenses, you will be asked to wear glasses instead for several weeks before surgery. You will also have a special ultrasound performed before surgery and will need to identify an adult to drive you home after your outpatient procedure. 

The Day of Surgery

Your eyes will be examined before surgery to confirm your eye health and your exact vision correction requirements. You will be given drops to numb your eyes, and you will receive medications through a vein to help you relax. In the operating room, your surgeon will insert an ICL through a small incision in each eye. Although you can expect to spend two to three hours at the Eye Center, the surgery itself takes about 30 minutes. 

After Surgery

After ICL surgery, you will remain in a recovery room so we can check your eyes. You will go home wearing sunglasses or protective eye shields but will need someone to drive you. You may have some eye discomfort or mild pain the day following surgery, but you can take a prescription or an over-the-counter pain reliever. After two weeks, you should be fully healed.


Recovery is generally quick, and you should notice improved vision within a day. You can return to your normal activities almost immediately but will need to use special eye drops for a month following your procedure. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled for the next day and again one week later. To ensure that you achieve the best results possible, your eye doctor may recommend an additional procedure to fine-tune your vision.

Long-Term Results

You can expect the results of ICL surgery to last until there is a medical change in your vision. For example, presbyopia -- the loss of reading vision -- and cataracts can occur as part of the natural aging process, even if you have had ICL surgery. ICLs are intended to remain in place permanently, but they can be exchanged or removed if you need cataract surgery or other procedure in the future.

Best Eye Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our ophthalmology program is ranked seventh in the nation and is the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

Why Choose Duke

Experience Matters

Our eye surgeons are board-certified ophthalmologists and fellowship-trained. This means that they have completed several years of advanced training in cornea and refractive surgery. Collectively, our surgeons have performed more than 28,000 refractive procedures since Duke began offering them nearly 30 years ago. Our vast experience and regular use of the most advanced technology ensure you achieve better vision and minimal recovery time.

Continuity of Care

Our doctors work with you from your first evaluation through all your follow-up visits. Or if you prefer, we can coordinate follow-up care with your local eye doctor. 

This page was medically reviewed on 10/26/2022