I Got ICL Surgery Abroad and Here’s What Happened

I’ve been legally blind for most of my life and relied heavily on glasses or contacts. I once asked my doctor, “You know how perfect vision is 20/20? What would mine be?”

About 20/10,000. 

That means something you can see perfectly clear 10,000 feet away, I can see 20 feet away. Except I have to hold something an inch from my face to see it without corrected vision, so it would be more like 1 inch/42 feet.

I always wondered what kind of life I could’ve led before the invention of glasses. Maybe the Black Plague would’ve gotten me before it mattered. Wait, I’m not European… but I digress.

Anyway, I’ve known about ICL surgery for about 10 years but I had to wait for my prescription to stabilize before I could seriously consider vision correction. Since it hasn’t changed for about 5 years, now was finally the time.

I considered places like Thailand but settled on Praga Medica, located in Prague in the Czech Republic (technically now it’s called Czechia, but people are reluctant to adopt it). I also liked that they were not pushy about the procedure and answered all my questions.

The cost of this procedure is nearly 4 times more in the United States so medical tourism was a no-brainer. We’re taking a 5-week trip and the total cost will still be less than having it in the US. Without further ado, here’s what happened.


The morning of the initial consultation, The Guy accompanied me to the Duozine Clinic on the 3rd floor of a building in Prague’s Old Town.

The entire process would take 3 hours. I sat in the waiting room until they called me and had a translator that accompanied me through the process.

In the first room, a woman asked me some general health questions. In the second room, they measured my prescription and eye pressure. Standard stuff.

The hallway outside the rooms was lined with chairs where various people sat – each at a different stage in the process. Most of them had their eyes closed.

I sat next to a man wearing a kilt who reeked of body odor. Is that smell coming from his armpits or… his balls? It was better I stopped thinking about it.

My translator asked if I would like any water, tea, or coffee – which I politely declined. Mercifully, it wasn’t long before another lady called me into another room for another test.

After, I sat back next to balls. Damn. The translator asked again if I’d like any water, tea, or coffee. It must’ve been a requirement.

Then came Schirmer’s test, which is fancy terminology for testing dry eyes. It’s pretty high tech and involves sticking two pieces of paper in your bottom eyelids and seeing if your eyes will produce enough tears to soak the paper until it reaches a certain mark.

In the two minutes the papers were sticking out of my eyes, I produced so many tears the strips hung heavy and wet on my cheeks. The technician said, “You give me much more tears than I need” and we laughed. I passed.

She then gave me a full eye exam – the one where they ask which is the lowest line you can read etc.

I was then directed to sit outside the doctor’s office. Once inside, she showed me a sample lens and gave me post-op instructions. Kind of weird, but whatever.

Back next to balls and offered water, tea or coffee. It was definitely a requirement. Ed Sheeran’s Perfect was playing overhead with the lyrics, “Darling, you look perfect tonight…” It must be nice you can see her Ed Sheeran.

After 20 minutes, I got some eye drops to dilate my eyes. 45 minutes later, they administered more drops and gave me a final exam.

The clinic ordered my lenses on express delivery and I was set to have surgery two days later. Whew.

Left Eye Surgery

My appointment wasn’t until late afternoon so I had all morning to anticipate the eye surgery. When it came time for my appointment, I met a representative in front of the clinic who walked me the 200 meters to a nearby building where the surgeries took place.

There, I changed into some comfortable clothes and sat in a room with 5 chairs. They gave me a surgical cap and taped my name over my forehead.

The technician offered me a pill for anxiety, but I declined. Every 5 minutes, the technician came over and said, “Mrs. Lee, look up please” and put a drop in my left eye.

“Close your eye, keep close.”

10 minutes before the surgery, I sat in the adjacent room where they put a surgical gown over my clothes and shoe covers over my feet. The technician administered a bunch of numbing drops and I started to feel nervous.

She peered into the surgical room leaning casually against the wall, and let out a deep sigh. Her boredom comforted me. I’m just one of a dozen surgeries every day. Nevermind all the patients are old and getting cataract surgery. It’s all the same, right?

Finally, I left my glasses on the counter and entered the surgical room. I shook the doctor’s hand and could see nothing except a bright yellow chair. In less than 5 minutes, he’s going to cut into my eye and I can’t even see his face.

The surgeon handed me a stress toy. Upon closer inspection, I could see it was a green and yellow frog. Why am I thinking about the Ducks right now? I felt better. It was a sign from The Guy probably.

The assistant put a drop in my eye that was yellow, so I assume it was iodine. She wiped my eye and put a surgical cover over my face.

“Please open your eye.”

I could see scissors coming toward my eye and cutting a hole around it. Now I know how Brandi feels when I trim the hair around her face. 

The surgeon placed clamps to hold my eye open and periodically, someone drizzled drops into it to keep it moist. A bright light shone overhead.

“Look at the light,” the doctor said. Look directly at the light? That’s going to blind me for sure. 

The surgeon pushed my eye around and kept telling me to stay focused on the light. Nothing else was said so I wasn’t sure what was happening. I clutched the stress toy and remembered to breathe. Shoulda taken that anxiety pill.

The procedure ended in 10 short minutes. They put a bandage over my eye and sent me off to the clinic for a quick check-up. Success!

Right Eye Surgery

The next morning, I had a check-up on the left eye and went over to the neighboring building for surgery on the right. Everything was similar except there were 4 people in front of me, which meant I had to wait longer.

I received 20 minutes more of dilation drops but fewer of the numbing drops. This time, I could see the surgeon in the operating room. The bright yellow chair beckoned to me again. Today’s stress toy was a black and white panda.

During the surgery, I felt things a lot more, which freaked me out. There was some burning and some pain during the surgery. I’d declined the anxiety pill again. Dammit, why did I do that? 

All the same, it was over in 10 short minutes. This time the bandage stayed on for about 2 hours until I accidentally sweated it off while climbing the stairs during the Klementinum Library tour.

For the rest of the night, my eye felt like there was a scratch or a piece of sand in it, which caused a lot of tears. I felt a little worried, but by morning the feeling was gone.

Day 1 Results

24 hours after the final surgery, I can see 20/15 out of both eyes! That’s reason to celebrate after years and year of dealing with contacts and glasses – and just being generally blind and stumbly.

However, I do have some big halos when there are bright lights (i.e. sun, lamp posts, indoor lights). Information online tells me these may go away as my eyes heal so hopefully that happens.

Regardless, I am super stoked about the results even if I have to live with halos forever (I’ll update as time goes on).

In short, medical tourism to get ICL surgery was totally worth it. Even if it was a simple exchange between one set of inconveniences and a new set of inconveniences. I’m so happy with the results and highly recommend Praga Medica if you’re considering doing the same!

Week 1 Update

I still see some big circles of lights in my field of vision under certain lighting (bright sunshine at dawn/dusk, overhead lights, candles etc). But they are getting noticeably less so I’m hoping the trend continues.

I did some research and realized I’m calling them halos, which is an inaccurate description. If I’m being honest, I think I’ve always seen halos around lights at night because of astigmatism. Starbursts are not a far-off norm either.

These are more like big rings of light correlating with the expansion of my pupil, and not with the light that’s causing the rings.

Sometimes it’s one big ring in each eye and under certain lighting, it’s two rings in each eye. Under low overhead lighting, it’s like I have dirty contacts in – causing smudged vision. As I mentioned, it was worse right after the surgery but has improved noticeably.

But these annoyances are slight as I’m enjoying not having to deal with contacts at all anymore. I keep thinking I’ve forgotten something at the end of the night and wake up really happy that I can see right away.

No more stumbling around. Still worth it!!

2 Month Update

Halos are fainter but still there (not a huge bother since they’re easily ignored). Low lighting still causes smudged vision, which is more annoying but doesn’t happen very often.

The novelty’s worn off but I don’t have to spend a dime on contacts or solution. Oh, and I can rub the SHIT outta my eyes whenever I want.

6 Month Update

Somewhere around Month 5, I realized I hadn’t noticed rings of light in my vision in quite awhile. If I stare directly at a lightbulb, I still see faint rings but they’re not very disruptive to my life.

Sidebar: Be prepared for the painful experience of cutting onions without a piece of plastic protecting your eyeball. I cry like a little bitch – every time.

2 thoughts on “I Got ICL Surgery Abroad and Here’s What Happened

Add yours

  1. I know how you felt. When you described the procedure it was as mine was, other than the implant. However, I chose the anxiety medicine.
    Doesn’t the world look so new, seeing things you’d never seen?
    We look forward to your coming home.

  2. This is a great, and numerous, description of your ICL surgery. I want to do it but have been nervous. I know you said it was 1/4 the price that it wou,d have cost in the U.S. but can you share a specific number?

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