What is Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery?
Refractive Lens Exchange, or RLE, is a vision correction surgery that replaces your natural lens with a new artificial lens to minimize the use of glasses and contacts.
RLE eye surgery is both an alternative to LASIK surgery and a close relative to Cataract surgery.
Refractive Lens Exchange surgery has many similarities to cataract surgery. Like in cataract surgery, the natural crystalline lens is removed and replaced with an Intraocular lens implant, or IOL. The main difference is that the natural crystalline lens that is removed has not developed or has not fully developed cataracts.
Is Refractive Lens Exchange Safe?
Yes. RLE is just as safe as cataract surgery. Numerous RLE studies have proven the safety of RLE in a wide variety of patients.
Possible complications are rare, and if they do occur, they can usually be treated successfully with medication or additional surgery.
The similarities between RLE and cataract surgery mean there are similar risks, including:
- Eye infection or bleeding
- Increased eye pressure
- Retinal detachment
- Dislocated intraocular lens
- Glare, halos, and blurry vision
- Droopy eyelid
During your pre-operative consultation, your doctor will answer any questions and thoroughly explain these and any other risks associated with RLE.
Is Lens Replacement Surgery Painful?
No, RLE is not painful. Patients receive numbing anesthetic drops so they don’t feel anything during the surgery. Patients typically report immediate vision improvement once the surgery is over.
Are You Awake During Lens Replacement Surgery?
Yes, you are awake during RLE. However, again, you receive numbing drops so you won’t feel anything. The entire RLE surgery takes about 15 minutes and is performed in an outpatient environment.
Cost of Refractive Lens Exchange
Typically, elective surgery such as RLE is not covered by insurance. However, you may have access to a flexible spending plan through your employer that provides tax advantages for surgery upgrades. You may also have payment plan options or health care credit cards so you can make RLE work for your budget.
Premium lenses, such as multifocal lenses or lenses to fix astigmatism, are an additional cost and may not be covered by insurance.
What to Expect from RLE Eye Surgery at Barnet Dulaney Perkins
Refractive Lens Exchange surgery is performed in our in-office surgery suite and takes only about 10-15 minutes per eye.
RLE recovery takes about 2-7 days to return to normal activities and about 6-12 weeks for your eyes to completely adjust. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure. As a patient, you will also receive a thorough post-operative appointment. If you have questions about the procedure or recovery, our team is always happy to help.
Our refractive surgery patients tell us that RLE surgery greatly improves their quality of life and allows them to do all of the things they love without having to worry about glasses and contacts.
Refractive Lens Exchange surgery comes with many benefits and people often decide to choose RLE because of their age and lifestyle. The only way to determine if RLE is a better option than LASIK, PRK, or a different surgery is to schedule a complimentary consultation at Barnet Dulaney Perkins LASIK centers.
- Age: For those that are past the recommended age for LASIK surgery but have not started to develop cataracts, RLE is an alternative that allows you to get vision correction that will last a lifetime. Most people don’t develop cataracts until later in life, making RLE a way to obtain vision correction before developing mature cataracts and eliminating the need to have cataract surgery.
- Minimizing Dependency on Glasses: As we age, our eyes begin to change. Many people notice that they need to begin using reading glasses, which is often known as presbyopia. Presbyopia cannot be corrected by traditional LASIK surgery. The advanced technology IOLs available for lens replacement surgery offer both distance and near vision correction to reduce the need for glasses. These are the same lenses that are available to you during cataract surgery.
- Catering to your Lifestyle: Many of our patients are active and find that glasses and contacts get in the way of their daily activities. RLE surgery allows you to enjoy the Southern Arizona landscape or even cruise through their Tucson neighborhood at night.
- You Won’t Develop Cataracts: Because Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery removes the natural lens where a cataract forms, you will have no possibility of developing cataracts later in life.
Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) Available at BDP LASIK
The lOL or intraocular lens that replaces the natural lens has special technology to correct vision.
Because the lens plays such a big role in RLE surgery, you may also hear it referred to as lens replacement surgery. The lenses used are able to correct distance, near and intermediate vision to reduce and sometimes eliminate your dependence on glasses.
Advanced technology lenses have also been developed to allow for improved vision at multiple distances. These lenses are known as multifocal lenses, and can even be used to correct eye conditions like astigmatism.
Hear from our real RLE patients.
Get first-hand accounts from our real RLE patients across the state of Arizona as they talk about the procedure and their experience with us at Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center.