As much as you might not want to admit it, the vision and health of your eyes will worsen as you get older. While changes in your vision may be manageable with contact lenses and glasses, you may want to ditch these eye accessories for the convenience of a more permanent solution.
The most common procedure that comes to mind for many is often LASIK, but (depending on a variety of health factors) you may or may not be a suitable candidate for it. For those that are not a good fit for LASIK, there are a variety of procedures that may be a better fit. Refractive Lens Exchange or RLE may be an alternative for those who don’t qualify for LASIK.
Refractive lens exchange procedure is really cataract surgery and is one of the most successful procedures performed in medicine today. It is fast, straightforward, painless, and very effective. The entire process takes between 15 – 20 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis. To perform RLE, your surgeon will apply numbing eye drops that will minimize any discomfort. Each eye must be treated separately one or two weeks apart.
How does it work?
Like cataract surgery, the goal of refractive lens exchange is to replace the natural lens of your eye with something called an artificial intraocular lens.
These lenses come in two categories:
- Monofocal IOLs improves your vision in the distance without glasses.
- Multifocal IOLs improves your vision in the distance, interemediate and near without glasses.
What makes a good candidate
The key factors for a good RLE candidate are age and the related health of their existing lenses. Patients in their mid-50s and beyond are often better candidates for RLE than LASIK, as their natural lens has become stiff and lack the ability to autofocus at high levels. When this becomes the case, it makes much more sense to fully replace a lens.
RLE is an effective, long-term solution for vision correction, and is often ideal for those who are not viable candidates for LASIK. Millions of these procedures are done in the United States each year, making it a trusted and common operation with many qualified surgeons across the country. While it is more expensive than LASIK, RLE provides a similar outcome and can provide the same quality-of-life benefits.
Benefits of RLE
Surgery to implant refractive IOLs also offers the following benefits:
- Quick recovery
- Doesn’t alter corneal thickness (unlike laser vision correction) and therefore eliminates some potential complications
- No need for cataract surgery in eye(s) treated with RLE in the future
- Can correct presbyopia
If you are interested in learning more about RLE or to schedule a consultation, contact us at (503)525-2737 .