Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is a procedure designed to treat refractive errors, including myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia. It consists of removing the crystalline lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens implant that has been custom selected to compensate for the individual’s refractive needs. The procedure is identical to cataract surgery and is therefore equally as safe and successful. However, it is not done to restore the loss of transparency due to a cataract, instead, it is done to eliminate significant refractive errors in people with aging eyes, or those who are not suitable candidates for Lasik or PRK.
Although each surgeon has different criteria, we reserve lens implant surgery for eyes with large refractive errors that are beyond the limits of what we can correct with Lasik or PRK. Also, RLE is often used to correct refractive errors on aging eyes that have early, asymptomatic cataracts. The latest presbyopic lens implant technology is very effective in restoring the ability to see clearly at distance and near, without the need to induce monovision.
The results you get with RLE should be permanent because by replacing your natural lens with an implant, you will no longer experience the normal, progressive change in the clarity and optical properties of your crystalline lens. Furthermore, although your eye will continue experiencing minor changes in corneal curvature, these changes will be small and should not have a significant impact on the quality of your vision.