Refractive lens exchange (RLE) surgery can help you reduce or even eliminate your reliance on glasses or contact lenses. RLE can be a good vision correction option for patients with complex refractive errors, as well as those who have been diagnosed with presbyopia (age-related loss of near vision). RLE can also be a LASIK alternative for patients who are not good candidates for laser vision correction. Our experienced refractive surgeons offer patients customized RLE surgery in Salt Lake City and the greater Intermountain West.
RLE involves the replacement of the eye’s natural lens with an advanced technology artificial lens. The potential benefits of RLE include:
For patients over the age of 45 who are starting to rely on reading glasses to see fine print due to presbyopia, but who also want to improve distance vision and/or astigmatism, refractive lens exchange may be the best vision correction surgical option. RLE surgery can dramatically improve their vision with many of the same benefits as LASIK.
I had RLE surgery at the Eye Institute of Utah. My vision is perfect! Dr. Passi is wonderful. Everyone there was so kind. Didn’t even know such a thing existed. I called them and told them I wanted to see what my options were, and now I don’t need my three pairs of glasses!
RLE is an outpatient procedure that is identical to cataract surgery, but performed before a patient develops cataracts, with the goal of greatly reducing a patient’s need for corrective eyewear after surgery. During RLE surgery, the eye’s natural focusing lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). By removing the natural lens of the eye during RLE surgery, you are eliminating the possibility of developing a cataract later on in life.
At your initial consultation, one of our experienced eye surgeons will evaluate your eyes and discuss your vision concerns and goals. If you are a good candidate for RLE, your doctor will review IOL options with you. At The Eye Institute of Utah, we carry a full array of the most advanced lenses, including multifocal IOLs that can simultaneously correct near, far, and intermediate vision and toric IOLs that can address astigmatism and correct vision at one distance or multiple distances. Schedule your consultation to get started.
Only one eye will be treated at a time, typically within one week of each other. A topical anesthetic will be applied to the eye via eye drops, and you will be offered an optional oral sedative such as valium. Your surgeon will create a very tiny incision, remove the eye’s natural lens, and replace it with the IOL. The incision required for RLE is usually so small that sutures are not necessary.
Most patients experience a minimal recovery period after RLE procedures. Prescription eye drops will be prescribed for optimal healing, and follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor your progress. In most cases, patients are able to resume work and other daily activities after about one day.
Anesthetic eye drops will be used to numb your eyes, and you may be offered an oral sedative to help you relax. Most patients experience a slight sensation of pressure during treatment, but they do not typically report feeling pain.
RLE is considered a permanent vision correction procedure. However, you may experience additional changes in vision as you age. Depending on your vision needs and the IOL option that you choose, you may be able to eliminate glasses completely or you may still need classes for reading and up-close tasks. Our eye doctors will work with you to help you choose an IOL that best fits your needs and your lifestyle.
RLE can effectively correct a range of vision issues, including:
The best way to determine if RLE is right for you is to schedule a consultation with one of our qualified ophthalmologists. They will perform a thorough eye examination and discuss your specific needs and expectations to help you make an informed decision.
If you would like to learn more about refractive lens exchange procedures, please contact us today. We will be happy to answer your questions or assist you with scheduling a consultation here at our practice.
The Eye Institute of Utah Doctors have either authored or reviewed and approved this content.