Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is commonly referred to as clear lens extraction or presbyopic lens correcting intraocular surgery. RLE is an emerging type of refractive surgery very similar to cataract surgery. Like many other types of refractive surgery, including LASIK eye surgery, Refractive Lens Exchange corrects nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Refractive Lens Exchange


nlike laser corrective surgeries, which alter the shape of the cornea, a refractive lens exchange changes the focusing power of the lens within the eye. For this procedure, the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced by a manufactured lens implant which has been selected to provide clear focusing ability. The lens implant remains within the eye, without needing any further care after surgery. It provides a wide range of focusing freedom, but since it is a fixed focus lens, glasses are necessary for all near vision activities such as reading, unless a new “Lifestyle” lens is used.

The Procedure

A refractive lens exchange is a simple outpatient procedure. Patients are sedated with oral or intravenous medications, if necessary. Only the selected eye is “frozen” for this painless surgery. In most cases, topical drops are used to anaesthetize the eye, so no injection is necessary.

A refractive lens exchange procedure is similar to modern cataract surgery. To begin, the surgeon makes a small incision in either the white area of the eye or on the edge of the cornea. The surgeon inserts a delicate instrument to create a smooth, round opening in the outer capsule of the natural lens. Using an ultrasonic suction probe, the surgeon gently breaks up and suctions out the gel from the lens capsule. Then, the surgeon inserts a high quality lens implant, and positions it securely within the natural lens capsule.

Infinity Eye Care Center surgeons generally use foldable lens implants which are inserted through tiny incisions and then open up inside the eye where they are positioned to provide clear vision. For extremely high corrections, foldable lenses are not available, so a larger incision is made to place a more rigid lens implant. The surgery is usually completed without stitches, since the incision is designed to be self-sealing. The whole procedure takes around 15 minutes.

Some lens implants can correct astigmatism. If needed, other surgical procedures can be combined with lens implantation to solve astigmatism focusing problems.

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