A Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is virtually identical to cataract surgery – a refractive surgery where the natural lens in the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant to alleviate refractive error. The only real difference is, in this case you are replacing a clear lens instead of one that is cloudy due to a cataract.
Who is it for?
Refractive Lens Exchange is also referred to as a refractive lensectomy, and is most commonly used for middle-aged and older farsighted (hyperopic) patients with higher levels of refraction than can be effectively treated with LASIK, LASEK or PRK.
These individuals are also typically presbyopic (experience lens inflexibility), and have a mild degree of cataract. Even if the cataract is not yet causing symptoms, it is likely that the cataract will progress and start causing vision problems in the near future. For these patients, removing the natural lens in the eye and replacing it with a multifocal lens may help correct both the farsightedness and the presbyopia symptoms.
RLE can also be used for nearsighted (myopic) patients who are not candidates for LASIK, LASEK or PRK, as well as for patients with astigmatism.
What to Expect
This procedure has been around for many years, and since the central cornea remains untouched during the surgery, patients with a thin cornea, dry eyes or even minor cornea problems can really benefit from the surgery. Also to note, because the natural lens is removed, there is virtually no chance of developing cataracts in the future.
For more information about available replacement lens options, please visit our Intraocular Lens Implants (IOLs) page. To learn more about the detailed procedure itself, please visit our Cataract Surgery page.