RLE – Refractive Lens Exchange

If you have been told that you are not a candidate for LASIK, PRK or CK a procedure called Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) may be for you. RLE replaces the natural crystalline lens in your eye with an artificial focusing lens. The procedure is designed to reduce or eliminate your dependency on glasses or contact lenses. Vision correction procedures such as LASIK correct vision by changing the shape of the cornea. RLE, on the other hand, does not change the shape of the cornea, but rather changes the lens in your eye. As light enters the eye it is first focused by the cornea and then by the lens. RLE removes the focusing lens in the eye, the crystalline lens, and replaces it with an artificial lens of a different power. This new lens allows light to better focus on the retina (the seeing membrane in the back of the eye). This procedure is very similar to cataract surgery. Our experienced eye surgeons at Gordon-Weiss-Schanzlin Vision Institute offer a number of RLE treatment options that can help you meet your needs.

The following video offers a brief overview of how Refractive Lens Exchange works:


Benefits of RLE

RLE can treat a greater range of nearsightedness and farsightedness than LASIK. This is due to the fact that no tissue is removed and the shape of the cornea is not changed, as is inherent in many laser vision correction procedures. Many patients have been told that LASIK is not a good option due to too large of a correction; these individuals may be excellent candidates for RLE.

The natural, crystalline lens in the eye changes shape to focus on different distances. The range of focus decreases over time. Most people start having some difficulty reading in their forties due to this decreasing focusing ability. The artificial implant does not change shape. The implant is usually designed to be clear at one distance only; for example, clear in the far distance and not up close for reading. However, due to modern advances, there are techniques that can be used with RLE that can improve both far distance and near distance vision. These techniques include monovision and multifocal implants that can be tailored to your individual needs. Options such as ultraviolet blocking lenses, foldable lenses, high energy blue light blocking lenses, toric astigmatic lenses, accommodating lenses, and others are available at our practice.

In cases of astigmatism, Refractive Lens Exchange implants correct only mild forms of this condition. For patients with a large amount of astigmatism correction, an additional laser procedure may be needed.

Our surgeon will discuss your options in depth to determine which technique is best suited for you.

The RLE Procedure

The Refractive Lens Procedure is, in many ways, like cataract surgery. In modern cataract surgery, the clouded crystalline lens or cataract is removed through a very small incision and replaced with an artificial lens implant. Cataract surgery has become so advanced that unaided vision after cataract surgery can be quite good. RLE utilizes a surgical technique very similar to cataract surgery to significantly improve vision without glasses or contact lenses, making it possible to enhance your vision by replacing the eye’s natural lens. Prior to the procedure, our highly skilled technicians, utilizing state-of-the-art ultrasound instruments, measure the eye. The surgeon reviews these measurements and calculates the appropriate implant for each individual eye using advanced computer programs. The surgery itself is painless, and the recovery is usually quite comfortable.

Contact Gordon-Weiss-Schanzlin Vision Institute

If you would like more information on Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) treatment options, or if you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our eye specialists, please contact Gordon-Weiss-Schanzlin Vision Institute today.

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