A Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is an alternative refractive surgical procedure for people who might not be a candidate for LASIK. It can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. It may even be possible to correct presbyopia with a multifocal or accommodating intraocular lens (IOL). Presbyopia is a condition that occurs, usually over the age 40, when the eye’s natural lens gradually loses its ability to focus up close, making it necessary for a person to wear reading glasses or bifocals. Millions of people have received IOLs when having cataract surgery. RLE uses the same highly successful surgical procedure used in cataract surgery.
RLE could be the refractive surgical procedure of choice for people, usually over the age of 40, who are too nearsighted, too farsighted, or have corneas too thin for LASIK. RLE corrects vision by removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL) that is the appropriate power for the eye’s length and corneal curvature. RLE is the same surgical procedure as cataract surgery, except a patient’s clear lens is removed instead of a cloudy lens. It is then replaced with an IOL through a 3mm or less microincision. Once the IOL is inside the eye, it is placed into permanent position. Since the microincision is so small and self-sealing, no sutures are required.
After the RLE procedure, patients go home and relax for the rest of the day. They can usually go back to their daily routine and 1 or 2 days. Most patients see an immediate improvement in vision. RLE is usually performed on the second eye 1 to 3 weeks after the first. Patients who have had RLE will avoid development of cataracts later in life. Since RLE involves surgery inside the eye, the possible side affects and complications are different from those of LASIK surgery. When you have your evaluation at our office, we will discuss those with you.