Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)
Give Your Vision
A Whole New Outlook
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) surgery replaces the natural lens with an intraocular lens (IOL), to correct various eye conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Also referred to as clear lens extraction, this procedure is considered to be an effective alternative to laser vision correction solutions such as LASIK or PRK. Using the same process as in cataract surgery, RLE eliminates the need for corneal modification that is common to the LASIK procedure.
If electing to undergo refractive lens exchange, you will have several choices for the IOL that will be implanted into your eye. We employ the same IOLs as we use in cataract surgery, including those that enable patients to see clearly at all distances. Among our popular IOLs are Crystalens®, ReSTOR® and TECNIS®. We also offer Toric lenses.
Is RLE Right for You?
Refractive lens exchange might be an excellent choice for you if you:
- Want to quit relying on glasses or contact lenses
- Are more than 50 years old
- Suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia (aging eye), or astigmatism
- Have early stage cataract symptoms
Many people with extreme farsightedness or nearsightedness that makes them poor candidates for LASIK often seek the alternative of refractive lens exchange for their vision correction. If you have astigmatism, you might want to consider additional correction during this procedure through Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRI), which are made on the periphery of the cornea. This creates a symmetrical cornea and helps to reduce, or even eliminate, the astigmatism. Please also ask us about other new IOLs designed to effectively repair astigmatism.
We perform refractive lens exchange on an outpatient basis. The surgery is nearly identical to cataract surgery, except that the ultimate goal here is to reduce the patient’s reliance on glasses or contact lenses with the inserted corrective lens.
A simple local anesthetic helps to minimize any eye discomfort during the procedure. We make a tiny incision of 2.8mm or less to remove the natural lens, then insert the replacement IOL through the same incision. Once in place, the lens opens to take its permanent position in the eye. The incision will heal itself, so that no stitches are required. Taking only 20 minutes to complete in its entirety, refractive lens exchange typically provides immediate noticeable results.
Refractive Lens Exchange Recovery
Patients can normally return home the same day as their refractive lens exchange procedure. Work and other regular activities can be resumed a day or two later. You may see immediate improvement to your vision, and it should continue to sharpen as the brain adapts to the new lens…at which point the second eye is usually treated. The inserted corrective lenses also serve the purpose of preventing future cataracts from forming.
Though the success rate for RLE is extremely high, some patients fare better than others. This can depend on several factors: your individual eyes, the IOL you select and your lifestyle, to name a few.
Rely on Experience and Expertise
You can expect the risks from RLE to be similar to those for cataract surgery. We will be happy to discuss the pros and cons of refractive lens exchange with you. Our experience with this procedure provides you, moving forward, with a built-in advantage.