What Is EVO ICL — Is This LASIK Alternative Recommended?
I Tried This Lasik Alternative and It Changed My Life
As someone who has worn glasses since third grade and contact lenses since fifth, you can only imagine just how eager I had been to get vision correction surgery. Was it a necessity? No. Was inserting contacts into my eyes every morning annoying? Not really (it became second nature). But did I harbor fears of a zombie apocalypse that would render me blind and subsequently murdered if my lenses and glasses were somehow lost and/or destroyed? Absolutely.
Absurd and (somewhat) irrational fear aside, I had always been interested in vision correction because it’s, for lack of a better term, pretty freaking cool. I’ve never shied away from taking advantage of advancements in medical technology, especially if they have the potential to enhance my life in a positive way. And, like most prospective patients, I had my (blurred) sights set on tried-and-true LASIK.
That is until I stumbled across the smirking faces of the Jonas Brothers promoting a procedure that I had never heard of before: EVO ICL?(short for Evolution Implantable Collamer Lens).
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As a former entertainment publicist, I know that it takes a lot of time, research, and firsthand experience before a celebrity formally backs anything in the medical space. Upon further investigation, I realized EVO ICL was supported by a long list of other A-listers, as well, including NBA star and my doppelganger Max Strus. I took comfort in knowing that if the operation didn’t butcher his baby blues, I’d likely be okay, but it was the surgery’s implantation method vs. LASIK’s laser approach that ultimately had me most intrigued. As a result, I moved forward with scheduling a surgery date with one of the best ophthalmologists in the New York City area, Dr. James Kelly of Kelly Vision Center, who, in addition to performing thousands of LASIK and eye-related procedures, is a leader in EVO ICL specifically.
What Exactly Is EVO ICL?
In a nutshell, EVO ICL is a minimally invasive, 30-minute corrective vision procedure where a bioidentical collagen lens is implanted and works “in harmony” with your eye.
The new-to-market remedy, which was approved by the FDA in 2022, is only for those who suffer from nearsightedness and astigmatism and can have lifelong results.
“Many patients see better after the EVO ICL procedure than they ever saw with glasses or contacts,” says Kelly, who adds that it is particularly beneficial for patients who have very high prescriptions. (I was -4.00 in my left eye and -4.75 in my right, for reference, but was surprised to hear that this was practically 20/20 compared to many people who visit the practice).
EVO ICL vs. LASIK
LASIK (laser assisted in situ keratomileusis) is the most popular vision correcting procedure by utilizing a laser to permanently reshape the cornea and correct its refraction problems.
The benefit of EVO ICL is that, unlike LASIK, it is completely reversible. If your vision drastically changes and/or you wake up one day and decide you really want to wear contacts again (I’m not sure why, but you do you), the doctor can recreate a microscopic incision to remove the lens.
Many patients also claim that the associated dry eye with LASIK is nowhere to be found after EVO ICL. That’s good news for you and bad news for the makers of Visine.
Who Qualifies for EVO ICL?
“Certain pre-existing conditions would make someone unqualified for EVO ICL,” explains Kelly. “These include cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or uncontrolled diabetes.”
“There are also certain anatomic considerations of the eye that would make someone potentially not a candidate,” he adds. “Furthermore, someone with a frequently changing prescription would not qualify.”
To determine if you are eligible, simply schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist who specializes in EVO ICL. He or she will run various tests before making a final decision.
What Was the EVO ICL Procedure Like?
Admittedly, this was the only surgery in my life that rattled me to my core(nea). My eyes are my best physical attribute and come in handy when my personality falls short due to hunger, exhaustion, or a daily disdain for most humans.
Anesthesia knocked me out like Mike Tyson and there was only one moment during the surgery that I actually remember. In this drugged-up stupor, I saw an extremely bright light and a row of boxes shifting from side to side. I verbalized that it looked like someone was “moving furniture around,” which was accurate in my brain but embarrassing to say in a room full of mostly strangers.
Upon waking, I did have a pretty horrible reaction to the anesthesia, but was told that nausea can be common with eye surgeries. Obviously the upchucking was separate from the procedure itself, but it’s worth noting that I did vomit multiple times in the hours that followed, including into my post-op bag that contained my newly unnecessary eyeglasses. I threw them out with the bag in a ceremony of beautiful irony.
What Is the Recovery for EVO ICL?
The first few days will cause that sand-in-the-eye, scratchy sensation we despise oh-so-much, but it is quelled by a range of prescription drops that you’re required to take in the month that follows (and a few days leading into surgery day). You’re also encouraged to use rewetting drops as often as possible, as to ensure the eye doesn’t dry out more than it needs to.
It is also recommended that patients sleep with an eye guard for the first three nights which, frankly, was the worst part of this entire experience. As a side sleeper, the lines etched into my face were quite deep and noticeable, so you may want to find a way to keep your head forward and sleep on your back. This will avoid you looking like Charlotte decided to weave a permanent web into your skin.
Lastly, you’re going to unsurprisingly experience some sensitivity to light. Wear sunglasses outside for the first week and be sure to also avoid physical activity during this time period so that the eyes can heal properly. This wasn’t too difficult for me — I’ll take any excuse to skip the gym and do absolutely nothing.
Would I Recommend the EVO ICL Surgery?
If money is not a concern (the procedure can run you anywhere from $3,500 - $5,000 per eye) and you have a chunk of change to shell out for elective surgery, I would absolutely recommend EVO ICL. It’s a life-changer for anyone who may struggle to put in contact lenses or is simply tired of going through the same ol’ routine every day.
As weeks have progressed, I continue to see halos and floaters, but their annoyance has drastically reduced as my body and brain have adjusted to my newfound vision. I have also been told that these will continue to dissipate until I simply don’t notice them anymore.
My only recommendation is to find a provider as skilled, personable, and knowledgeable as Dr. Kelly. Despite the fact that the procedure is quite safe, quick, and non-invasive, professionals like him will help to ease nerves and answer any lingering questions.
Once you go through with the surgery and awake the next day to near-perfect vision, you’ll be forever appreciative of something we so commonly take for granted: being able to see clearly. And that, in and of itself, is a feeling you can’t put a price on.
AskMen received complimentary services in exchange for this honest review.
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