Are you interested in correcting your vision permanently? Or perhaps you would like to avoid getting cataracts?

There are a few different options that could improve your vision. These include LASIK, PRK, phakic IOL surgery, and refractive lens exchange (RLE).

It can be hard to think about vision correction if you don’t know anything about these procedures. Keep reading to learn more about refractive lens exchange and find out if RLE is suitable for you.

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

RLE is a vision correction procedure where a surgeon replaces the natural lens in your eye with an artificial one. The artificial lens is an intraocular lens or IOL. It fixes vision issues and allows you to see clearly without relying on glasses. 

Who Gets Refractive Lens Exchange?

You can undergo refractive lens exchange for multiple reasons. Most people who get RLE are very farsighted or have presbyopia.

For these individuals, PRK, LASIK, or phakic IOL surgery are not good options. RLE might be the only option to correct your vision if you have presbyopia or a high level of hyperopia.

Hyperopia is commonly called farsightedness, and presbyopia is the stiffening of your natural lenses due to age. RLE can correct both.

RLE is also a good option if you want to avoid developing cataracts in the future. During RLE, your natural lens gets removed the same as it would during cataract surgery. The only difference is that cataracts are not interfering with your vision yet.

If you are farsighted, have presbyopia, or want to prevent cataracts, then RLE could be right for you. LASIK, phakic IOLs, and PRK are better treatment options than RLE for nearsightedness.

What Happens During RLE?

RLE is basically the same as cataract surgery. The difference is that in RLE, your eye’s natural lens is clear.

The entire procedure takes around 15 minutes per eye. Each eye undergoes the procedure separately, about a week apart.

After the procedure, you have to rest for the first week. Then you can start getting back to normal activities. But, it does take a few weeks for the final results to take full effect.

Are there different IOL options?

The IOLs for RLE are the same ones used during cataract surgery. Selecting the right IOL is crucial because it replaces your natural lens.

The best IOL for you depends on your eye health and vision needs. The options are:

Monofocal fixed-focus IOLs

Monofocal or standard IOLs only correct one distance, not all three, at the same time. You still need to wear glasses after RLE with a monofocal IOL.

Accommodating IOL

Accommodating IOLs allow you to see clearly at multiple distances by mimicking your natural lens. They flex and bend as the muscles in your eye contract or expand to focus at different distances. They will significantly reduce your need for glasses.

Multifocal IOL

Multifocal IOLs also allow you to see at multiple distances. Rather than flexing to focus light, they have two or three refractive zones depending on the IOL.

The lenses have zones built into them. The zones have focusing power at different distances.

That way, you can look at things over various distances, and the lens focuses all of it. Multifocal IOLs give you an excellent chance of never needing glasses again.

Does RLE Correct Astigmatism?

Certain IOLs can correct astigmatism for good. Toric model IOLs are specially designed to correct astigmatism. If the IOL you choose for RLE has a toric model, you can fix your astigmatism during your RLE procedure.

Would you like to talk to an ophthalmologist about RLE? If so, schedule an appointment at Chicago Cornea Consultants™ in Chicago, IL.

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