What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Are you searching for a vision correction procedure even though you don’t qualify for LASIK? You may be a good candidate for something called refractive lens exchange, also known as RLE!

RLE is a procedure that replaces the natural lens of the eye and corrects refractive errors. Keep reading to learn more about refractive lens exchange and find out if it may be right for you!

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive lens exchange is a procedure that corrects refractive errors like nearsightedness and farsightedness. By removing the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL), RLE is highly similar to cataract surgery.

The only difference? You can have refractive lens exchange and not have cataracts. By choosing RLE, you can bypass cataracts and cataract surgery entirely, leaving you to enjoy many years of clear vision!

Patients that have cataract surgery already have cataracts and have their cloudy lens removed during the procedure. With refractive lens exchange, you’ll have the option to choose from several different kinds of IOLs, allowing you to experience the best vision you’ve ever had if you decide on a premium lens.

Who is a Good Candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange?

The only way to know if you’re a good candidate for refractive lens exchange is to schedule a consultation at Diagnostic Eye Center. Like any surgical procedure, not everyone is suitable for RLE.

A good candidate may be in their forties or fifties and have a refractive error that needs to be corrected. One thing that makes refractive lens exchange attractive is knowing it can reduce your dependence on glasses and contact lenses.

Couple on the beach

If you’re more active and like to travel, RLE can give you the convenience you want. It’s much easier to enjoy a new place when you don’t have to stop and think if you’ve packed enough spare glasses or contacts before leaving the house!

Your eye doctor may recommend having refractive lens exchange if you are more likely to develop cataracts. By removing the natural lens, you can avoid having cataracts later on in life.

You may also want to consider RLE if you have presbyopia or already have early cataracts that have yet to affect your vision. Refractive lens exchange can be quite appealing if you want to have LASIK but found out that you’re not a good candidate for it.

RLE is another way to reduce your dependence on glasses and contact lenses and see the world the way it was meant to be experienced!

What are the Benefits of Having Refractive Lens Exchange?

The most significant advantage and benefit of having RLE are that it can help you see the world without relying on visual aids. Replacing your natural lens with an IOL can address near and far-sightedness and astigmatism.

People who have had RLE can’t develop cataracts because the procedure removes the natural lenses. For those that don’t qualify for LASIK, RLE is a great way to achieve similar results. Refractive lens exchange also has a rapid recovery time, with most patients returning to work after only a day or two.

What Happens During Refractive Lens Exchange?

Before you can undergo refractive lens exchange, you’ll need to have an initial appointment to evaluate your vision and measure your eye. Your eye doctor will perform acuity tests to assess the degree of your refractive errors.

The procedure takes less than 10 minutes per eye, with one eye performed at a time. The second eye is usually done one to two weeks later. Waiting ensures your eye has time to heal, and you’ll have clear vision in one eye, allowing you to see.

During refractive lens exchange, your surgeon may offer you a mild sedative to help you relax. You’ll receive numbing eye drops, and the entire eye is anesthetized to keep you comfortable. You should not feel any pain, but you may experience slight pressure.

The Diagnostic Eye Center eye care team will clean and sanitize your eyelids and the skin around your eye. This step ensures a clean surgical field and limits the chances of bacteria transfer.

Your surgeon will use a femtosecond laser to create tiny incisions at the front of the eye. After creating these incisions, they will remove your natural lens and replace it with the intraocular lens.

Once placed, the new IOL doesn’t need stitches or adhesives since the eye will heal on its own. Your vision may start improving in as little as a few hours after having RLE.

What is an IOL?

IOL

An IOL is an artificial lens that replaces the natural lens during refractive lens exchange or cataract surgery. These lenses are usually made of acrylic or silicone and are treated to protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays.

There are many different kinds of IOLs, depending on your visual goals after having RLE. For patients looking to reduce dependence on glasses and contact lenses as much as possible after RLE, premium IOLs are the best option.

These artificial lenses provide patients with a full range of vision, no matter how far away or close to an object they may be.  Talk to your eye doctor at Diagnostic Eye Center for recommendations on the best premium IOL for you.

What is Recovery Like After Having Refractive Lens Exchange?

Once you’ve been cleared to leave and go home, you’ll need a friend or family member to drive you. It’s normal if your eyes feel a little more sensitive than usual, but after a day or two, this should go away.

Man putting in eye drops

Most patients find that they can resume many of their everyday activities about a day after having refractive lens exchange. To prevent swelling and reduce the chance of infection, you’ll take both anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops.

As you continue healing, you’ll need to see your eye doctor for follow-up appointments to assess how your eyes are healing. Your eye doctor will also check your visual acuity to determine how much your sight has improved. You’ll need to return to have RLE on your second eye after the first has finished healing.

You’ll be able to return to your job and comfortably work on a computer within 24 hours of having RLE. Avoid strenuous activities like running for at least a week.

Avoid swimming in bodies of water like lakes and rivers, as well as pools and hot tubs for several weeks to protect your eyes from bacteria. Your eye doctor will let you know when you can safely return to all activities.

Think that refractive lens exchange could be right for you? Learn more by scheduling an appointment at Diagnostic Eye Center in Houston, TX, now!