Posted on: 05/17/23

IOL's, Refractive Surgery

Do you want corrective surgery to improve your vision and reduce your dependence on glasses? Refractive lens exchange, or RLE, may be your answer!

When most people think of corrective surgery, they think of LASIK. However, there are other options available that can provide equally excellent results.

The most significant difference between LASIK and RLE is that LASIK reshapes the cornea to correct vision, and RLE removes and replaces the lens of the eye, making this procedure very similar to cataract surgery, the most commonly performed surgery in the world.

Keep reading to learn more about RLE, including when it may be time for the procedure!

What Is RLE?

Like cataract surgery, RLE surgery involves removing the old lens of the eye and implanting a new lens called an IOL, an intraocular lens. The IOL’s shape improves your vision by correctly focusing light on the retina, which corrects your natural refractive error.

Your eye doctor will remove your natural lens, then implant a new one to replace the old one. The RLE procedure is generally quick and easy and requires little downtime. 

What Are The Advantages Of RLE?

RLE has several advantages when compared to other methods of refractive surgery. RLE can correct a wide range of refractive errors, so if your nearsightedness or farsightedness is moderate to severe, it can still improve your vision. 

It can also correct for astigmatism depending on the type of lens implanted. While a single-vision lens is typically used during cataract surgery, giving the patient excellent distance vision, there’s still a need to wear glasses for close-up vision. 

But with advances in multi-focal lenses, it’s possible to choose a lens that provides both clear distance vision, good intermediate vision, such as working on a computer, and functional close-up vision for looking at a phone or handheld device. 

Who’s A Good Candidate For RLE?

If you have abnormally-shaped or thin corneas, it’s likely that you won’t be a good candidate for certain refractive procedures such as LASIK. However, this will not hinder your chances of being a good candidate for RLE. 

If you are over the age of forty, have healthy eyes, and have a stable refractive error, it is likely that you will be a good candidate for RLE. However, the only way to know for sure is to visit your eye doctor at Cutarelli Vision for an evaluation.

What To Expect During The RLE Procedure?

It’s important that you have someone drive you to and from your procedure, so make sure to arrange this well in advance. First, you’ll be given a topical anesthetic to numb the eye and make you more comfortable. 

The procedure typically only takes fifteen minutes. A microscopic incision will be made in your cornea, and then your old lens will be removed and replaced with your new lens.

After this, you’ll be sent home to recover, with follow-up visits scheduled to ensure you’re healing properly. You’ll also have aftercare instructions, so be sure to follow those as well.

RLE Compared To Other Refractive Surgery Options

One distinct benefit of RLE, if you’re forty or above, is that it will address two issues of the aging eye: presbyopia and cataracts, the natural clouding of the lens as you get older. When the old lens is removed and replaced with a new lens, neither condition will develop. 

With LASIK, over time, presbyopia and cataracts will still develop in your eyes, as LASIK is performed on the cornea of the eye and does not impact the natural lens. RLE is a procedure with a long and successful track record. 

It can provide you with much greater visual freedom and improved quality of life.

Are you interested in learning more about RLE? Schedule an appointment at Cutarelli Vision in Fort Collins, CO, today!