Refractive Lens Exchange

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Are you tired of wearing glasses or contact lenses, but have not been diagnosed with cataracts?

Refractive lens exchange (RLE), also known as clear lens exchange, is an elective surgical procedure used to correct some common vision conditions such as presbyopia and high farsightedness, with or without astigmatism.

The procedure involves removing your eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL), which is a variation of the standard cataract surgery.

Who can have a Refractive Lens Exchange?

RLE aims to achieve visual clarity for people who don’t have a cataract, but would like to correct another refractive condition affecting their vision and achieve sharper focus.

Because of this, RLE is a choice for presbyopia correction, with a goal of reducing the dependency on glasses.

Others choose to undergo RLE surgery in the absence of a cataract to avoid the need for cataract surgery in the future. This because RLE is the same procedure as cataract surgery, where the natural lens is replaced with an IOL.

Even if you have had laser eye surgery, you can still benefit from RLE. Ask your surgeon to find out more.

How does Refractive Lens Exchange work?

RLE surgery is a routine procedure and usually only takes 15 minutes for each eye, which are operated on separately – usually a week apart. The surgeon will numb your eyes with anaesthetic drops, so there should be no pain or discomfort.

  1. Topical anaesthetic drops are applied to numb your eye(s).
  2. A tiny incision is made in the cornea.
  3. A specialised instrument is used to remove the natural lens.
  4. A new intraocular lens (IOL) implant is inserted where the natural lens once was.
  5. You may be given an eyepatch to use for a short time following the surgery.

Most people experience vision improvement immediately after their refractive lens exchange surgery.

In a day, you should be able to resume everyday activities and return to work. Aftercare will likely include eye drops, to be taken for up to four weeks.

You may notice some mild visual disturbances as your eye heals and gets used to the new lens. This might feel like blurriness, halos around bright lights or glare, but these should calm down after a few weeks.

After a few weeks, you should begin to fully benefit from the RLE surgery and your new artificial lens, experiencing every-day activities with a sharper focus and visual clarity. You shouldn’t be able to see or feel the new IOL and as it is placed inside your eye, it won’t be visible to others either.

Better yet, your IOL implant is designed to be permanent; you should be able to enjoy the benefits of your new lens and heightened vision for the rest of your life.

However, it is important to follow your surgeon’s advice on eye after-care, to avoid the minimal chance of regression or visual deterioration in the future.

To find out the nearest clinics in your area offering refractive lens exchange or to get more information on the right treatment for you, use our Clinic Finder Tool now.