Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

If you have been told that you are not a candidate for LASIK or PRK, a procedure called refractive lens exchange (RLE) may be right for you. Just like laser eye surgery, RLE is designed to reduce or eliminate your need for glasses and contact lenses. With state-of-the-art technology in intraocular lenses like Technis multifocal, Symphony and the Alcon trifocal Panoptix lenses, treating patients with difficult prescriptions has never been easier.

While LASIK and other laser vision correction treatments reshape the cornea, refractive lens exchange is a procedure wherein a clear lens is implanted inside the eye, replacing your eye's natural lens; this, in turn corrects your vision.

An alternative to LASIK - smiling woman with her arms crossed in front of her

Dr. Shah offers a number of RLE treatment options that can help you meet your needs.

RLE is usually advisable to patients over the age of 40 who suffer from high prescriptions that may not be treated safely by a laser.

There are many advantages of RLE, including:

  • It will eliminate the risk of needing cataract surgery in the future
  • It can improve both distance vision and near/reading vision
  • Recovery is usually quick (think 24 hours!)

Am I a good candidate for an RLE?

General requirements for good candidates are those who:

  • Are over the age of 40
  • Have mild, moderate, or severe nearsightedness, farsightedness, with or without astigmatism
  • Have generally healthy eyes

The RLE Procedure

The refractive lens procedure is, in many ways, like cataract surgery - which is the most common eye surgery performed worldwide.

Before the procedure, eye drops are administered to dilate the pupils. This step may trigger light sensitivity and blurred vision. Following this, additional eye drops will be used to anesthetize the patient’s eyes.

The surgery itself consists of four easy steps:

Step 1

The surgeon creates a tiny incision in the eye, where the lens will be inserted.

Step 2

The surgeon uses state-of-the-art ultrasound technology to remove the natural crystalline lens of the eye. Through this specialized and precise instrument, called a phacoemulsifier, the natural lens is then removed.

Step 3

The natural lens is replaced with a new foldable artificial lens.

Step 4

The new lens unfolds and takes the place of the natural lens, for an easy and smooth transition. The procedure is completed, with no stitches required, allowing for a speedy self-healing process. The procedure generally takes less than 15 minutes per eye.

The surgery itself is painless, and the recovery is usually comfortable and quick.   
Most patients are functional the next day.

Mature man reading tablet, smiling at the camera

Benefits of Refractive lens exchange

Refractive lens exchange has a long history of predictable and successful outcomes, fast visual stabilization, and minimal side effects. RLE procedures can be combined with laser or incision options to correct astigmatism. Additionally, this procedure eliminates the need for cataract surgery in the future, allowing patients to enjoy good vision for many years. This is a great option for patients looking to get rid of their reading glasses.

Recovery from refractive lens exchange

Although you will need a ride home from your RLE procedure, you will be able to resume most normal activities within a day, and strenuous activity within a few days.

The best way to find out which procedure is right for you is to come in for a free no-obligation consultation.

Book your free consultation today