Staar Implantable Contact Lens (ICL)

Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL) are an alternative to Laser Eye Surgery for people with high myopia (nearsightedness) or irregular cornea topography.  Staar Visian ICL Lenses are a form of phakic intraocular lenses that function just like contact lenses to correct nearsightedness. 

What are Staar Implantable Contact Lenses?

Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL) are an alternative to Laser Eye Surgery for people with high myopia (nearsightedness) or irregular cornea topography.  Staar Visian ICL Lenses are a form of phakic intraocular lenses and are made of collagen, a substance that naturally occurs in your body. The are placed in your eye during minor eye surgery. Staar Implantable Contact Lenses are designed to correct refractive errors, which are errors in the eye’s focusing power. The ICL lenses focus the light entering the eye onto the retina (back of the eye) to provide a clear distance vision without the need to wear corrective eyewear. The implantable lenses function just like contact lenses to correct nearsightedness. The difference is that the implantable contact lenses work from within your eye instead of sitting on the surface of your eye. The lenses are placed just in front of the natural lens of your eye permanently to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses. Think of having your contact lens become part of your natural eye.

Phakic means that the lens is implanted into the eye without removing your eye’s natural lens.

The Staar Visian ICL is the brand of phakic intraocular lens that has FDA approval for the treatment of nearsightedness (myopia).  This means it has been determined to be a safe and effective procedure for treating myopia. It is made of Collamer, a highly biocompatible advanced lens material which contains a small amount of purified collagen. Collamer does not cause any reactions inside the eye and it contains an ultraviolet filter that provides protection to the eye while allowing visible light to pass through unaltered.

Am I suitable to have Staar Intraocular Lens Implantation?

The ideal candidates are 21 - 45 years of age who are myopic (nearsighted -3D to -20D) and have had a stable vision prescription for at least one year, and are not suitable for LASIK surgery due to corneal irregularity or thin corneas. ICL is an ideal treatment for those with high strength glasses and who have minor or no astimagtism.

For many people who are outside the treatment range of laser eye surgery such as LASIK, Staar ICL provides a treatment option to permanently correct your vision without the need for glasses.

What to expect during the surgery

Staar ICL surgery is performed as a day procedure at Bowen Hospital with a local anaesthetic. The recovery is quick, normally just a few days, and is considered a permanent correction of your vision.

The procedure typically only takes 30 minutes for both eyes but expect to be at the hospital for 3 hours for preparation for surgery and checks after your eye surgery.

You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.

You will be given anaesthetic (numbing) drops for your eyes so you won’t feel anything during the procedure.  A deeper anaesthetic (subtenons) is applied just prior to the surgery. You may also have a mild sedative to help you relax if you wish.

The surgeon will place an instrument called a lid speculum on your eyes to keep your eyelids open.

The latest Staar ICL lenses have a central port allowing fluid to freely move from back to front of the eye so laser iridotomy on each eye is no longer required.

The ICL is surgically placed through a small micro-incision just behind the iris (coloured part of your eye) in front of your eye’s natural lens. The lens gently unfolds in your eye, rests behind your iris and is biocompatible with your body chemistry. The ICL does not touch any internal eye structures and stays in place without any maintenance.

An eye shield is placed over your eye to protect it and you need to wear this for a couple of days.

What to expect after Staar Intraocular Lens Implantation

Your surgeon will give you eye drops (antibiotic and anti-inflammatory) to relieve any discomfort and prevent complications and will arrange for you to have a follow up appointment the next day. You will also have follow up appointments at one week, one month and six months to monitor your progress.

It is important to follow your eye surgeon’s post-operative advice and attend the follow up check up appointments to help avoid any complications.

The ICL stays in place by itself and you will not feel anything in your eye.

Most people have improved vision immediately but you should expect your vision to be hazy or blurry with an increased sensitivity to light for the first few days.

For some people it can take two to four weeks before their vision stabilises.

You should be able to return to work and start driving again in a couple of days after the procedure.

Will I still need glasses for near vision?

The implant is designed to be permanent, however, if in the future your vision changes dramatically after receiving the implant, your ophthalmologist can remove and replace it.

The implant does not treat presbyopia  which is the normal loss of your eyes being able to see things clearly up close that occurs with ageing and becomes noticeable in your early to mid 40s. Some people may need reading glasses.

Can you see the lens in my eye?

No, as the lens is placed behind the iris (the coloured part of the eye) it is not visible to you or other people. You won’t feel the lens and you do not need to clean them.

Are there any risks in having Staar Intraocular Lens implantation?

With all surgery problems can sometimes occur during the operation or afterwards in the healing period. This risk is normally very low.

Your surgeon will ensure you are given clear advice and explain any potential complications with you and how these can be avoided.


Contact Bowen Eye Clinic on 0800 69 2020 to learn more about refractive correction surgery with Staar ICL. You can discuss with Dr Reece Hall whether Staar ICL is the right treatment option for you to become less dependent on your glasses and contact lenses.