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Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery

What is RLE?

Refractive Lens Exchange, or RLE, is a surgery that is both an alternative to LASIK surgery and a close- relative of Cataract surgery. The common factor of each of these surgeries is that they are meant to provide vision correction.

Refractive Lens Exchange surgery is performed the same way as cataract surgery. Like in cataract surgery, the natural crystalline lens is removed and replaced with an Intraocular lens implant, or IOL. The only difference is that the natural crystalline lens has not developed or has not fully developed cataracts yet.

The lOL that replaces the natural lens corrects the patient’s vision. There are many lens options available to correct distance, near and intermediate vision to reduce and sometimes eliminate your dependence on glasses. Advanced technology lenses have also been developed to allow for corrected vision at multiple distances, also known as multifocal lenses, and can even be used to correct eye conditions like astigmatism.

Portrait of happy senior paddling kayak in the lake with man supporting from behind. Mature couple enjoying a day at the lake.

What to Expect from RLE Surgery

Lens Exchange surgery is an outpatient procedure, taking only about 10-15 minutes per eye. The recovery takes about 2-7 days to return to normal activities and about 6-12 weeks to experience complete adjustment. Patients will receive a thorough post-operative appointment. We are also always able and willing to answer any questions or concerns throughout the recovery process.

Most patients say that RLE surgery is a life-changing experience, giving them vision they have not had in years and allowing them to do the things they love without being held back by glasses or contacts.

Why get Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery?

There are many reasons to get Refractive Lens Exchange surgery, including age and lifestyle. Deciding if RLE Surgery is right for you will require a consultation with your doctor about your vision needs and desired results after surgery.

  • Age: If you are past the recommended age for LASIK surgery, but have not started to develop cataracts, RLE is an alternative that allows you to get vision correction that will last a lifetime. For most, cataracts don’t develop until much later in life, making RLE a way to obtain vision correction before developing mature cataracts and eliminating the need to ever need cataract surgery.
  • Minimizing Dependency on Vision Aids: As the eye ages, most will begin to need reading glasses. This is called presbyopia and is not corrected by traditional LASIK surgery. The advanced technology IOLs available for lens replacement surgery offer both distance and near vision correction to reduce the need for glasses.
  • Catering to your Lifestyle: For many patients, a reason to get RLE surgery is that having to worry about glasses and contacts gets in the way of being active or enjoying their favorite activities.
  • Eliminating the Possibility of Developing Cataracts: Since RLE surgery removes the same lens that a cataract would form in, it eliminates the possibility that that eye would ever develop cataracts.

Am I A Candidate for RLE?

If you are looking for vision correction, RLE might be the right option for you.

Typically, good candidates for RLE are between the ages of 40-60. Other factors might include your desired results after surgery and the needs of your unique eyes. Our doctors are ready to help guide you through your options for vision correction and answer any questions you have.