Refractive lens exchange (RLE), also called clear lens extraction, replaces the natural lens with an intraocular lens (IOL) in patients wishing to correct various refractive errors – this includes high farsightedness, high nearsightedness or presbyopia, without undergoing a corneal modification procedure such as LASIK. RLE is also a suitable procedure for someone who is considering LASIK but is over the age of 40. More commonly, patients with loss of near vision (presbyopia) and/or wearing progressive or bifocal glasses choose RLE with a multifocal lens to reduce their need for reading glasses. Extended range of focus lenses are an excellent option for patients with active lifestyles who wish to free themselves from glasses.
The refractive lens exchange procedure is the same as that used in cataract surgery; the only difference is that refractive lens exchange is performed to achieve refractive correction rather than cataract removal. Refractive lens exchange involves a rapid recovery and offers patients dramatic improvement in vision quality.
Typically, the lens replacement surgery takes about 15 minutes, with each eye done separately about a week apart to allow for healing. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis with numbing drops administered prior, so you won’t experience pain or discomfort. The IOL implant can be compared to a dental procedure to fill a cavity – you won’t feel the IOL just as you wouldn’t feel a dental filling. Because the IOL is inside of the eye, rather than on the surface like a contact lens, it’s virtually invisible.
After surgery, patients enjoy clearer vision and greater focusing power almost immediately. Many eliminate or significantly reduce their dependence on glasses or contact lenses, and vision remains stable over time. This procedure also prevents the patient from developing cataracts in the future. The initial recovery period is about one week, after which you can resume normal activities. As your eyes heal, you may experience some scratchiness, dryness, or a “halo” effect, all common during this period of recovery.
Patients can choose from a wide range of IOLs in order to achieve the best possible vision. At Prism Eye Institute, our doctors will be able to help guide you to the right lens for your individual eyes.
Presbyopia is a naturally-occurring condition that happens to just about everyone after the age of 40. As we age, the eye’s natural lens becomes harder and thus more inflexible, causing us to lose the ability to focus close up. Presbyopia-induced loss of near vision cannot be corrected with refractive surgery such as LASIK – more commonly, patients will choose RLE with a multifocal lens to diminish their need for glasses. For those over the age of 40 with active lifestyles wishing to free themselves of the burden of glasses – this procedure is for you!
“The distance vision is spectacular I can’t even remember wearing glasses. I hardly ever wear reading glasses. The halos which were never really that bothersome just somehow went away. This is the greatest thing I’ve ever done I would pay $20,000 to do this! I feel so lucky.”
-Heidi, RLE patient with Symfony EDOF lens
Although refractive lens exchange is considered safe for most patients, there are certain risks associated with any kind of procedure. You can discuss these risks, along with the benefits of this procedure, before deciding whether or not it is right for you. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us at Prism Eye Institute today!