About Refractive Lens Exchange
The eye surgeons of Solomon Eye Physicians & Surgeons offer their Maryland vision correction patients the refractive lens exchange (RLE) procedure. Also known as clear lens exchange or clear lens extraction, RLE is an excellent treatment option for patients who have high degrees of nearsightedness or farsightedness, and therefore, may not be good candidates for laser eye surgery.
RLE involves the extraction of the eye's natural lens, which is then replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant. Although RLE is essentially the same procedure as cataract surgery, in RLE, the eye's natural lens is not obscured by cataracts. Instead, the lens is removed and replaced with an IOL to sharpen the focusing power of the eye.Take our LASIK Quiz!
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The main advantage of RLE is that it can correct high degrees of nearsightedness or farsightedness. It is also often performed on patients who are not good candidates for laser eye surgery due to inadequate corneal thickness. In addition, RLE eliminates the possibility of cataract development and enables individuals who have mild cataracts to receive treatment and achieve improved vision. RLE also corrects presbyopia (age-related loss of near vision).
Individuals who undergo the RLE procedure are generally able to see well at multiple distances afterward, often greatly reducing their need for corrective eyewear.
What To Expect
The refractive lens exchange procedure is technically the same as cataract surgery, and the difference is its purpose. During cataract surgery, the lens is removed because it has become or is becoming opaque due to cataracts. It is then replaced with an artificial lens that cannot develop cataracts and may also correct the patient's refractive errors. During RLE, the natural lens is healthy but is removed in order to replace it with an artificial lens that can correct a refractive error. The artificial intraocular lens (IOL) will be chosen before your surgery and will be created specifically to accommodate your exact refractive errors.
On the day of your RLE procedure, your eyes will be numbed and an anesthesiologist will administer a mild sedative to make sure you are comfortable. You and your surgeon will have decided beforehand whether the procedure will be done with a fine diamond blade or with laser technology. A very tiny incision will be made in the cornea, through which the natural lens can be removed and the artificial lens implanted. The artificial lens is rolled up very tightly to be inserted, and then it unfolds and is inflated after it is in place.
The incision is so tiny and fine that it does not require sutures; it will heal on its own over the course of the following days. Most patients are able to see immediate results with their ultimate vision outcomes visible in just a couple of days.
If you are having both lenses replaced, you will need to wait about a week between surgery on each eye. Each surgery only takes about 15 minutes, but after your numbing drops wear off, you may feel some slight discomfort. However, it only lasts a day or two and can be managed with over-the-counter analgesics. As your eyes continue to heal, you will likely have a few instances of blurry vision, glare, or halos that will come and go. You may likely also have dry eye symptoms. This is normal and will dissipate over time. For some patients, this only lasts a few weeks, but for others, it might last months.
After your procedure, we will schedule follow-up visits that are very important for you to attend. Even if you feel great and can see perfectly, we need to monitor the progression of your healing. Your new lenses are designed to last forever; however, if there is any issue or concern, it is always possible to have them replaced or resituated.
Plan Your Procedure
long-term clear vision
Refractive lens exchange is an amazing procedure that can significantly improve not only your vision but your overall day-to-day functioning. For patients who are not great candidates for LASIK, LASEK, or PRK, refractive lens exchange is a phenomenal option that reduces or eliminates the need for corrective lenses, as well as the likelihood of developing cataracts. If you interested in finding out more about RLE, please contact Solomon Eye Physicians & Surgeons to set up your evaluation.