REFRACTIVE LENS EXCHANGE
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) corrects refractive errors using an intraocular lens implant. RLE may be the procedure of choice for patients with a large amount of hyperopia (farsightedness) or for patients with early cataracts or a need to lower their intraocular pressure.
Millions of patients have received intraocular lens implants when undergoing cataract surgery, using the same highly successful surgical techniques used in RLE. The primary difference between cataract surgery and RLE is that cataract surgery is performed to remove a patient’s cloudy lens, and RLE is performed to reduce a patient’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
Performed as an outpatient procedure, the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an intraocular lens implant (or IOL). You will remain comfortable, as the eye is completely anesthetized. Very tiny incisions are made on the front part of the eye that seal without stitches. These incisions are made by either a small blade or a femtosecond laser. The natural lens is removed using a procedure called phacoemulsification, which involves an ultrasonic probe that dissolves the lens. After the natural lens is removed, an intraocular lens is placed in the eye.
Everyone heals differently, but most patients report improvement in their vision almost immediately. Strenuous activity should be avoided for one week, but most patients return to a desk job the day after surgery. One eye is done at a time, and the second eye is usually done one or two weeks later.