Refractive Lens Exchange

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

As we age, the natural crystalline lens inside the eye loses its ability to focus on close objects, resulting in a condition called presbyopia. If we cannot correct this with laser vision correction, then we can replace the natural lens with an Advanced Technology Lens. Meaning you will see clearer and reduce your need to wear glasses or contact lenses. 

Once you have had Refractive Lens Exchange, you will not develop a cataract later in life as artificial lenses cannot get cataracts. We can combine RLE with laser vision correction to correct any residual refractive error using a procedure called bioptics.

What is the difference between RLE and cataract surgery?

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is identical to modern cataract surgery. Both operations involve replacing the natural lens with a synthetic lens implanted through a tiny incision in the eye.

The only difference is that cataract surgery is performed mainly to correct blur or light scatter caused by a misty natural lens, whereas RLE is performed to reduce the dependence on glasses or contact lenses.

What is the difference between RLE and LASIK?

Both LASIK and RLE are types of refractive eye surgery. Meaning they are procedures to correct refractive errors.

During RLE, our surgeon will make an incision to replace your lens with an artificial one. Whereas with LASIK, we create a flap and reshape your cornea with a laser to improve your vision.

LASIK is a popular choice for correcting myopia and hyperopia. Though, RLE may be better suited for patients above the age of 50 as it would treat any refractive error including presbyopia and prevent any age-related cataracts from forming later in life.

Refractive Lens Exchange procedure

Refractive lens exchange is a type of lens replacement surgery. The RLE procedure usually takes around 15-20 minutes. Our animated video below shows the procedure in more detail: How is Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) surgery performed?

The lens isn’t visible to others in the way a contact lens can be, and you won’t be able to feel it in your eye. There are different types of lenses available, for example, monofocal and multifocal lenses. 

With monofocal lenses, you can choose either near or distance vision, not both. Though, we can place a near lens in one eye and a distance lens in the other for some patients (this is called monovision). Monofocal plus lens (also known as premium monofocal lens) give an increased range of vision than standard monofocal lenses.

A multifocal lens offers a higher chance of independence from glasses/contacts with near and distance vision. In this category, there are trifocal and EDOF lenses. These are quite popular, as they provide near, intermediate, and distance vision.

Toric lenses are available to correct astigmatism and reduce any distortions you may be experiencing. Monofocal and multifocal lenses are available with toric lenses incorporated in them to correct any astigmatism you have.

Learn more about the procedure in our blog: Refractive lens exchange surgery: What is the process?

Side effects of Refractive Lens Exchange

There are some side effects of refractive lens exchange that can last a few days to a week. If your symptoms continue past this, we recommend discussing this with our ophthalmologist.

 

Possible side effects include

  • Dry eye
  • Red eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Itchy or ‘scratchy’ sensation
  • Glare and halos around lights
  • Sensitivity or discomfort in the eye

As with any surgery, there are risks involved. Though, with RLE/ lens replacement surgery, complications are rare. During your initial consultation, we will discuss these risks with you.

 

Benefits of RLE

While there is no upper age limit for LASIK, RLE is a safe and effective procedure for patients above the age of 50. Unlike LASIK, RLE is a more permanent solution for your presbyopia and can correct any refractive errors, such as myopia (shortsighted), hyperopia (longsighted) or astigmatism you may have. 

Additionally, you will not require any cataract surgery in the future. The lenses implanted are permanent and last the rest of your life helping you achieve greater glasses independence long term.

 

Benefits of RLE include:

  • Improved focus
  • Clearer vision
  • Prevents cataracts
  • Reduced glare and halos
  • Easier to distinguish between colours

At Oculase, we offer private care tailored to your needs, so the cost will depend on the complexity of your case. Please contact us to discuss this further. Read our testimonials for further evidence of our high-quality services.

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Refractive lens exchange helps you see clearer and prevents the development of cataracts.

Mr Tariq Ayoub, consultant ophthalmologist and founder of Oculase – The Eye Clinic, offers expert care throughout every step of your eye health journey. He has received Specialist Certification in Refractive Surgery (Cert-LRS) from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Put your eye health in the hands of experts. Book a consultation today to get started.

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FAQs

    If you are over 45 years of age and have a glasses prescription higher than the normal range for laser eye surgery

    The surgery is generally pain free as anaesthesia in the form of drops is used during the surgery to numb the eye.

    Yes you have the option of having both eyes done on the same day. Mr. Ayoub will discuss this option with you during the consultation

    Use of a Trifocal Advance Technology Lens generally reduces the dependence on glasses or contact lens. During your consultation, Mr. Ayoub will discuss the various lens options available to you and advice you on the suitability of each lens for your eye.

    • Severe infection or bleeding that can permanently affect your vision
    • Raised intraocular pressure
    • Retinal tear/detachment

    Generally most people are ready to return to work/general day-to-day activities 3 days after surgery. However, heavy lifting and strenuous activity should be avoided for 2 weeks after surgery.

    Mr. Ayoub will discuss your personal circumstances with you during your consultation.

    Driving can be resumed when the legal standard is met, typically one week after surgery. Mr. Ayoub will discuss your personal circumstances with you during your consultation.

    The alternatives to RLE are Laser Vision Correction and ICL surgery.

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