Refractive Lens Exchange

refractive lens exchange surgery

Have you been told that you are not a good candidate for laser eye surgery, but your natural lenses have insufficient power to naturally permit clear vision? There is hope! Incredible advances in technology make it possible for the eye care team at UELC to substantially restore our patients’ ability to see both near and far objects without the aid of reading glasses or bifocals. It’s called refractive lens exchange, and it has helped more than 25 million people worldwide to achieve perfect vision.

Is refractive lens exchange (also known as lens replacement surgery, clear lens extraction, or RLE for short) really for everyone? Typically, RLE is performed on individuals aged 45 to 75 years who suffer from presbyopia (loss of near vision due to aging) and/or a high degree of hyperopia (farsightedness) – although the procedure can also be used to correct nearsightedness (myopia) and other conditions such as astigmatism. It’s a great option for people for whom traditional LASIK or PRK are contraindicated.

The Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Procedure

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) replaces your eye’s clear natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) that permanently corrects your refractive error to achieve sharper focus, thus greatly reducing or entirely eliminating your need for reading glasses or bifocals. Because the procedure is the same as a cataract operation, using a sophisticated, aspheric implant, you can never develop cataracts after having the refractive lens exchange procedure.

In fact, the 10-minute RLE procedure is virtually identical to a cataract surgery. First, our eye surgeon employs the latest anesthesia techniques to freeze the eye without the use of a needle. A microscopic, self-healing incision is made in the cornea and the most advanced ultrasound technology is used to remove the lens of the eye. The defective lens is then replaced with a new foldable artificial lens, which unfolds to easily and automatically take the place of the natural lens.

Just as in cataract surgery, three types of intraocular lenses are available to replace your natural lens, depending on your vision needs and the health of your eyes.

They are:

  • Monofocal fixed-focus: These lenses provide clear vision at distance, intermediate or near ranges — but not all three at once.
  • Multifocal: A multifocal lens provides clear vision at multiple distances.
  • Accommodating: A type of monofocal lens that enables focus at more than one distance by shifting its position in the eye.

Because there is no one size fits all solution for every patient, and each type of implant has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of the best uncorrected vision it produces at different distances, your eye surgeon will examine your eyes to recommend the type of lens that is most suitable for your individual needs.

Within minutes after the surgery, natural processes seal the micro-incision in the cornea. The lens implant remains within your eye without needing any further care after surgery.

After refractive lens exchange surgery, it usually takes about a week before you can resume normal work, driving and daily activities, as your eyes need this time to heal naturally. But after that, you won’t feel an IOL in your eye, because unlike a contact lens, it does not sit on the surface of the eye but rather inside the eye. The artificial IOL is designed to last the rest of your life, with extremely minimal risk of your prescription changing or deteriorating over time.

General Questions About Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery

What is Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery?

Lens Replacement or Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is like cataract surgery. The procedure involves replacing your natural lens with a customized lens to correct the prescription and reduce your dependence on glasses. This is a good alternative for LASIK laser eye surgery and ensures you do not develop a cataract in later life.

How Does Refractive Lens Exchange Work?

The RLE procedure involves surgically removing the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an Intraocular Lens to improve your vision. We can also adjust the intraocular lens to any power, including farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism, to correct your eyeglasses prescription.

How Long Does Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery Take?

The RLE procedure takes around 15-20 minutes for each eye. Due to advancements in technology, surgeons can now treat both eyes on the same day. We recommend treating the worst eye first before treating the other eye. Our surgeons typically perform the procedure under local anesthesia to ensure a quick recovery. However, depending on your needs, we can also offer a full general anesthetic or sedation to calm your nerves.

Will I Stay Awake During the RLE Surgery?

In most cases, our surgeons will use anesthetic eye drops, so you are awake throughout the treatment. We can also offer you a tablet on the day of the procedure to ensure you are relaxed and comfortable. If you prefer to be sedated during the surgery, we may recommend a general anesthetic or sedation as per our discussion during the initial assessment and consultation with you. We will ensure you feel safe and are at ease during the surgery.

When Can I Begin Exercising After the Lens Replacement Surgery?

Refractive lens exchange is a quick procedure that allows you to perform your regular daily activities the day after the surgery. It helps to wait three days before resuming light exercise and two weeks to resume your full exercise routine and go swimming with goggles. You can swim without any restrictions after four weeks.

Why Choose Refractive Lens Exchange Over Eyeglasses?

Between the regular cleaning and the fear of breaking them, eyeglasses are difficult to handle. Refractive lens exchange surgery is an excellent choice as it reduces the need for them and even gets rid of them entirely. Moreover, RLE is a one-time cost, unlike glasses.

Refractive Lens Exchange Procedure to Restore Your Vision

When you trust your vision to the UELC clinic, you can rest assured that your care will be overseen by a surgeon who is experienced in restoring vision using the refractive lens exchange procedure, and is completely current on the latest techniques and best practices. Our clinic boasts the finest equipment and technologies the industry has to offer. Call now to speak to one of our experienced professionals about RLE vision correction today.