Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is an alternative to LASIK, PRK, and other vision correction procedures. In some cases, patients who are not good candidates for more common methods of laser vision correction may qualify for RLE. The refractive lens exchange procedure is also known as clear lens exchange (CLE).

Using the same intraocular lens (IOLs) options seen in cataract surgery, refractive lens exchange is used to correct vision when cataracts are not present. This procedure effectively corrects nearsightedness or farsightedness by replacing your eye’s natural lens with an artificial one that helps the eye focus correctly. It can also correct astigmatism. The surgery itself is identical to cataract surgery and lens replacement. Because the natural eye lens is no longer in place, patients who undergo RLE are no longer at risk of developing cataracts, even as they age.

Refractive Lens Exchange: Introduction

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  • How Does Refractive Lens Exchange Work?

    Before the procedure, you and your ICON Eyecare doctor will discuss which intraocular lens will give you the best results for your particular needs and lifestyle. Your vision following refractive eye surgery will depend on the IOL chosen. Premium IOLs often result in better eye sight at all distances, reducing or eliminating the need for glasses or contact lenses.

    During refractive lens exchange surgery, the natural lens of your eye is removed. The lens will then be replaced with the chosen IOL. The surgery utilizes laser technology to produce a customized result. The IOL sits inside your eye, rather than on the surface like a contact lens. This means you will not feel or see the new lens.

    Intraocular lenses are designed to last a lifetime and should not need to be replaced or changed like prescription eyewear.

  • Is Refractive Surgery Right for Me?

    No two eyes are exactly alike, and a thorough consultation is necessary to determine your candidacy for refractive surgery. Your ICON Eyecare doctor will help you decide which vision correction surgery is right for you. RLE surgery can be a good option for patients with extreme prescriptions, presbyopia, or thin corneas.

    The most common candidates for RLE are:

    • Patients over the age of 40 who wish to eliminate the need for reading glasses permanently.
    • Patients who are experiencing the early onset of cataracts and wish to have surgery before the cataract worsens.
    • People under the age of 40 who have high prescriptions or thin corneas, and therefore are not candidates for any other vision correction procedures, including LASIK.
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