RLE - Refractive Lens Exchange
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) involves replacing the eye’s natural lens with a special lens (called an IOL) that corrects vision problems. The RLE is the same procedure as modern cataract surgery, but new technology has opened RLE to people with varying degrees of nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia, especially when LASIK and PRK are not ideal.
Presbyopia affects just about everyone and becomes noticeable sometime after age 40 in most cases. Presbyopia is a naturally occurring age-related condition where your eye's natural lens becomes more firm and inflexible, and you lose the ability to focus on near objects.
RLE: A Treatment for Early Cataracts?
People who are middle-aged or older may have the beginnings of cataracts that eventually could worsen and require cataract surgery. Once you have had RLE you will never require cataract surgery.
Non-surgical options for presbyopia include reading glasses, bifocal or progressive eyeglass lenses, and trifocal contact lenses. Another option is wearing contact lenses for monovision.
Refractive surgery such as LASIK, PRK and phakic IOLs cannot directly address presbyopia-induced loss of near vision.
And, although recent medical advancements such as monovision LASIK and corneal inlays are available, not everyone is a suitable candidate or is within the treatment parameters of these procedures.
For people with presbyopia and moderate-to-severe hyperopia, RLE often is the most appropriate surgical option.
A major appeal of clear lens replacement is the recent availability of FDA-approved trifocal IOLs. Trifocal and IOLs enable you to focus at all distances, to overcome presbyopia as well as poor distance vision.