Clear Lens Extraction

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

As our eyes age, they develop a condition known as presbyopia, which means that glasses or contact lenses will be needed to read printed material, look at a cellphone, or perform other up-close activities. Presbyopia is a vision condition that can’t be cured with laser vision correction. However, that doesn’t mean you need to rely on glasses or contacts for the rest of your life, because refractive lens exchange can help.

While different from LASIK, refractive lens exchange (RLE) is quite similar to cataract surgery. RLE is a surgical procedure that reduces or eliminates the need for glasses or contacts for people generally over the age of 40, at which point new visual challenges may arise. Refractive lens exchange can be used to correct presbyopia, nearsightedness or farsightedness, and astigmatism.

The Difference Between LASIK and RLE

While LASIK is used to correct the shape of the cornea, refractive lens exchange replaces the natural lens of your eye with an advanced artificial lens, called a multifocal or accommodating intraocular lens (IOL), allowing clear vision at multiple distances. Additionally, with RLE you’ll never have to worry about cataracts in your eyes because the IOL will remain clear as your eyes age.

For older patients considering surgery to increase freedom from glasses and contact lenses, refractive lens exchange is an excellent option. Ask the experienced doctors at Capitol Eye Care to determine how RLE can enhance your unique vision.

The Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery

Like a camera, all eyes have a lens inside of them. With RLE surgery, this lens is removed and replaced with an artificial implant, called an intraocular lens, which corrects your farsightedness or nearsightedness. The power of this intraocular lens is calculated to the unique specifications of your eye.

Only one eye is treated at a time. After the eye is numbed with topical or local anesthesia, the eye’s lens will be gently aspirated through a tiny incision. Next, the new intraocular lens will be folded and inserted through the same micro-incision. It will then be unfolded and placed in the same pocket previously occupied by the natural lens. The incision is small and self-sealing, usually requiring no stitches. 

This outpatient procedure will have you out of the clinic the same day. For some people, LASIK or PRK can be used after the refractive lens exchange to fine-tune the vision to its full potential.

What’s the difference between cataract surgery and refractive lens exchange?

The main difference between standard cataract surgery and clear lens extraction is that cataract surgery is used to remove a patient’s cataract, which obscures and clouds their vision, while clear lens extraction is performed electively to reduce a person’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses.