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Refractive Lens Exchange

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Refractive Lens Exchange is most often referred to as clear lens extraction or presbyopic lens correcting intraocular surgery. RLE is an emerging type of refractive surgery available at our Laser Vision Correction Centers in Stockton, Tracy and Lodi. It is very similar to cataract surgery. Like many other types of refractive surgery, including LASIK eye surgery, Refractive Lens Exchange corrects nearsightedness and farsightedness. The desired refractive result is achieved with the insertion of a lens implant known as an IOL. Refractive Lens Exchange is a great option for an ophthalmologist to utilize when vision problems extend beyond the limits of lasers. For example, if a patient is extremely nearsighted, but also has a reading vision issue, one of these new multifocal lenses may be a good option. Prior to the advent of the multifocal lens, refractive surgeons often performed monovision LASIK or simply corrected the myopic disorder and then the patient required glasses for reading. This type of refractive surgery may also be useful if a patient has extremely thin corneas, which would preclude laser surgery. Several visual situations could lead your surgeon to choose refractive lens exchange as your best option for vision correction. As reading vision problems begin to set in for many people in their 40s and 50s this type of surgery starts to make a lot more sense. Due to the multifocal capabilities of these new lens implants you now see at both far and near distances. Since cataract surgery is on the horizon and your natural lens will be removed at the time of cataract surgery, you may consider this option ahead of time (e.g. before cataracts develop).

The Refractive Lens Exchange Procedure

Refractive Lens Exchange uses the same technique used in cataract surgery. This technique has been used for decades and is the best method for cataract removal and lens insertion. During the surgical procedure the patient is first prepped using a local anesthetic and drops. After the eye has been sterilized the surgeon will make a 2.5 to 3 millimeter incision in the eye. In order to see inside the eye our doctors perform this delicate surgery with a powerful magnifying microscope. A device known as the emulsifier is inserted to the eye and begins to remove the natural lens. Once all of the lens material has been evacuated, a foldable intraocular lens is inserted in the same place as the old lens. Refractive lens exchange is performed on an outpatient basis and only one eye is treated at a time. After the surgery is complete you will be required to go home and rest for the remainder of the day. Most patients report rapid visual improvement immediately after surgery.

Advantages of Refractive Lens Exchange

  • Reduces the dependence on glasses and contact lenses
  • Rapid visual recovery
  • Excellent results without the using a laser
  • Eliminates the need for cataract surgery in the future
  • Potential Risks of Cataract Surgery & Refractive Lens Exchange