Refractive Lens Exchange
Refractive Lens Exchange – RLE
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), also known as clear lens replacement, is a procedure designed to reduce a person’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses. Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is an eye procedure designed to remove the natural crystalline lens of the eye and replace it with an artificial lens, known as an intra-ocular lens implant to correct refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia) or a focusing error of the eye. It is an alternative to laser vision correction and other vision correction procedures. The procedure is identical to that used to remove a cataract.
How does it work?
The lens of the eye is designed to focus light onto the retina to enable clear vision. If the light is not focused accurately, the image will be blurred. By removing the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens of appropriate power, the image can be refocused to create clear vision. Unlike laser vision correction procedures, such as LASIK, which involve reshaping the front surface of the eye, Refractive Lens Exchange involves placing an intra-ocular lens implant inside of the eye, permanently.
Who are candidates of RLE?
The procedure is most commonly designed for middle-aged people with a hyperopic refractive error. The artificial lens can be mono-focal (allowing clear distance vision) or multi-focal (allowing both near and far clarity). It is not generally recommended for people under 45 years of age, although there can be exceptions. Candidates should have a strong desire to be less dependent on glasses or contact lenses and have no significant eye disease.
What are the alternatives?
Glasses and contact lenses have been the standard method of correcting refractive errors. Even laser vision correction procedures, such as LASIK and PRK have created viable alternatives. However, many patients are not appropriate candidates for LASIK and PRK and may opt for RLE in some circumstances.
How is the surgery performed?
The surgery is usually performed in an outpatient surgical facility under topical anesthesia with light sedation. The procedure may take up to 15 minutes, is relatively painless, and visual recovery rapid. Most patients can return to driving, reading and work within a day.