Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Also know as Lens PresbyVisionTM

If you have been told you are not a good candidate for LASIK or PRK, a procedure called Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) may be right for you. Just like with laser eye surgery, RLE is designed to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses and contact lenses. With state-of-the-art technology in intraocular lenses, treating patients with high or complicated prescriptions has never been easier.

While LASIK and other laser vision correction treatments reshape the cornea, RLE is a procedure wherein the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial, intraocular lens. This, in turn, corrects your vision. 

An alternative to LASIK

RLE is usually recommended to patients over the age of 40 who suffer from presbyopia (up‑close reading vision loss).

There are many advantages to RLE, including:

  • The recovery is usually quick (often 24 hours)
  • It can improve your vision at all distances
  • It can treat nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and or astigmatism
  • It can eliminate the need for cataract surgery in the future

Am I a Good Candidate for RLE?

General requirements for good candidates are those who:

  • Are over the age of 40
  • Have generally healthy eyes
  • Have presbyopia (up-close reading vision loss)

The RLE Procedure

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is performed on an outpatient basis and usually takes only 15 minutes. Both eyes are usually done at the same time. Patients tend to experience very little discomfort during the procedure, if at all, and many report seeing an improvement in their vision immediately after surgery. 
Before the procedure, you will be given eye drops in order to dilate the pupils, which may trigger sensitivity and blurred vision. Afterwards, additional eye drops may be used to anesthetize the eyes. 

Following this, the actual procedure consists of four easy steps: 

Step 1:

The surgeon creates a tiny incision in the eye, through which the intraocular lens (IOL) will be implanted.

Step 2:

Using state-of-the-art ultrasound technology and a precise instrument called a phaceomulsifier, the surgeon will remove the eye’s natural lens.

Step 3:

The natural lens is replaced with a foldable, artificial intraocular lens (IOL).

Step 4:

After the IOL is implanted in the eye, the new, artificial lens will unfold in order to take the place of the natural lens, which was removed. The procedure is then complete, usually within 15 minutes. The incision does not require stitches; it will start self-healing almost immediately.

woman on trolley

Recovery from Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

One of the best parts about RLE is that the recovery is usually quick. Most patients are back to their normal routines within a day of the procedure, though it may take several days to resume more strenuous activities. It may also take a number of weeks before the final visual outcome is achieved. As your eyes heal, you may notice visual disturbances like blurred vision, halos, and glares, which are normal.

Please note that you will not be able to drive immediately after your procedure. As such, it is important to plan ahead in term of transportation. You will need someone to drive you home to rest on the day of your procedure and will also need a driver to take you to your first post-op appointment the next day.

Ready to learn more about RLE?

The only way to confirm if you are eligible for RLE is through an eye examination. When you book a free, no-obligation consultation, our team of experts will evaluate your eye health, discuss your needs and desired outcome, and will recommend a procedure to best suit your situation.

Schedule your free consultation