Refractive Lens Exchange
Unlike laser refractive surgeries which change the shape of the cornea, Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) removes the eye’s natural lens and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). RLE is similar to cataract surgery, but it is performed to eliminate refractive errors rather than to remove an actual cataract. RLE is a safe, effective procedure to improve vision for people with high hyperopia (generally a prescription of over +4.00) or for people over 50 years old who may soon develop a cataract. For people suffering with presbyopia, RLE can improve BOTH distance and near vision.
You need a cataract surgeon, not a LASIK surgeon.
It is important to note that RLE is not performed by refractive surgeons who only specialize in LASIK or PRK. RLE is very different from these procedures and therefore a doctor who only does LASIK may not even mention this alternative to you. Drs. Beers and Liu have extensive cataract surgery experience and they use the newest, most advanced lens for spectacle independence, the multifocal intraocular lens. The Crystalens is another alternative for RLE. The Crystalens has the ability to flex, allowing patients to see at different distances.
Refractive Lens Exchange
People who are over 50 may have the beginnings of cataracts which will eventually cloud their vision. Cataracts tend to get worse over time, eventually requiring cataract surgery. The lens hardens over time (presbyopia) and thus our reading vision fades.
If you have early cataracts, you are better off having a refractive lens exchange now rather than LASIK. An artificial lens can provide significantly better vision for you (especially if you are currently using glasses or contact lenses) and because your natural lens has been removed, there is no chance of developing a cataract in the future.
Refractive Lens Exchange for Hyperopia
For extreme farsightedness (Hyperopia), refractive lens exchange is a much better alternative than LASIK. The surgery has been done safely for decades and it leaves the cornea untouched.
RLE is an outpatient procedure that is very similar to cataract surgery. Drs. Beers and Liu will begin by numbing your eye with a few anesthetic drops. They will then make a tiny incision in the outer capsule of your eye’s lens. Using a probe, they will gently remove your lens and insert a high quality lens implant of the correct power. The surgeons use the newest multi-focal and accommodating lens implants which gives the patient the ability to focus at different distances. RLE provides good distance vision as well as an improvement in near vision. The surgery is generally completed without stitches in approximately 20 minutes.
For more information Refractive Lens Exchange, please read our Refractive Lens Exchange FAQs.