How successful is lens replacement surgery?
Mr Tariq Ayoub - 29 Jun 2021
Many of us experience some degree of short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and/or astigmatism. These conditions are usually managed with glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery. But for some patients, these are undesirable or unsuccessful.
Lens replacement surgery – or refractive lens exchange (RLE) – is a very effective way to achieve clear and comfortable vision.
We are here to help you understand what you can expect. Read on to learn more about this type of eye surgery and how it works.
What is lens replacement surgery?
Lens replacement surgery is normally offered to people as an alternative to laser eye treatment. It is used to correct eye conditions such as refractive errors. These are common vision problems that include:
- Presbyopia (problems focussing due to age-related eye changes)
As the procedure’s name suggests, it replaces your ageing natural lens with a new artificial lens implant. This implant is permanent and usually does not need removing.
Lens replacement surgery/RLE removes the need to wear glasses or contact lenses for almost all activities.
The process is the same as cataract surgery but is called lens replacement surgery/RLE when used to correct refractive errors.
Lens replacement surgery is ideal for people in middle age, or older, and who are not suitable for laser vision correction. It may be that you wish to be rid of your reading glasses and/or have a high amount of refractive error that requires correction, or you may have the early stages of a cataract.
How successful is lens replacement surgery? In general, after a brief recovery, 95% of patients can pass an eye test to driving standard without needing glasses.
Lens replacement surgery will correct your presbyopia, in addition to any astigmatism, myopia or hyperopia that you may have. After the surgery, about 90% will not need glasses or contact lenses for any activities. A few may need reading glasses or contact lenses but only occasionally. This may be for extended periods of reading, looking at very small print, or in poor lighting.
So, if you are asking “Will I need glasses after RLE/lens replacement surgery?” The answer is almost certainly not for most activities, and maybe never.
In this video, eye specialist in London and Birmingham, Mr Tariq Ayoub, explains more.
Lens replacement procedure
You have the option to have one eye treated at a time or both treated on the same day. If you choose to have treatment for both eyes on separate days, we will leave a few days between appointments.
The procedure is painless because we use anaesthetising eye drops and a mild sedative if required.
The eye surgeon softens your existing lens using ultrasound which is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens implant (an advanced synthetic lens). The actual surgery usually takes no more than 10 minutes and you can go home on the same day after surgery.
The new lenses are usually trifocal – for extended depth-of-focus and clearer distance and intermediate vision, without glasses. Premium monofocal lenses give you clear vision for distance, but you will need glasses for close-up work.
Benefits of lens replacement
What is the benefit of replacing a failing lens? With age, your natural lens starts to degrade, which makes it harder to perform at its best. RLE/lens replacement surgery gives you better vision in a huge range of situations.
Because we implant the lens inside the eye, you’ll be able to do activities where glasses or contact lenses are not suitable, such as swimming.
It gives you greater freedom to switch between tasks without needing to remember to have a pair of spectacles on you all the time.
You will also not develop a cataract if you have had the surgery.
Possible side effects of lens replacement surgery
Like all operations, this procedure has some risks. However, they are very rare and usually corrected with extra treatment if needed.
The most common side effects after surgery are slight discomfort, sensitivity and blurred vision or glare during the recovery time (see below). However, these should improve quickly in the days and weeks after surgery.
According to the NHS, the risk of a serious complication such as significant loss of vision after RLE/lens replacement surgery is about 1 in 500. For more information, you can download a patient guide here.
The lenses should last for the rest of your lifetime. It is important to remember that your eyes can still change over time. If this happens, you might need another procedure in later years.
Lens replacement surgery recovery
After the lens replacement, your vision should be at near-normal levels.
Some patients will notice vision improvements within a day. On average, eye lens replacement surgery recovery time is about two weeks. To aid recovery you’ll have anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops.
A few days of slight discomfort and glare or blurred vision is completely normal while you recover from lens replacements and your eye settles down.
You should be able to return to work after the first few days. You won’t be able to drive until we have checked your sight during a follow-up appointment.
Booking lens replacement surgery
Oculase provides state-of-the-art ophthalmic treatments for visual problems.
Are you interested in seeing clearly again with no glasses or contacts? Book a consultation to find out more about lens replacement surgery and our other treatments.