Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is an alternative procedure to laser vision correction and other refractive surgery procedures. It can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and even presbyopia using new technology intraocular lens implants (IOLs). Millions of eyes have received Intraocular Lenses when undergoing cataract surgery using the same highly successful surgical techniques used in RLE.
RLE may be the procedure of choice for patients who are too nearsighted, too farsighted, or have corneas that are too thin for laser vision correction. It may also be a viable alternative for those over the age of 40 who wish to eliminate their dependence on bifocals or reading glasses and for those individuals who may be showing signs of developing cataracts.
Many vision correction procedures, such as laser vision correction , change the focusing power of the eye by changing the curvature of the cornea. RLE, on the other hand, corrects vision by replacing the eye’s natural lens with an intraocular lens of the appropriate power of each person’s eye length and corneal curvature.
NEW TECHNOLOGY IOLs
Exciting advances in intraocular lens design now give patients the option to choose a Monofocal, Multifocal, Accommodating, or Toric IOL to correct their vision. Both Monofocal and Toric IOLs correct nearsightedness and farsightedness and provide excellent vision at one point of focus, usually distance. Toric IOLs also correct astigmatism. Both of these lens types can also be used to provide “monovision” or “blended vision,” where one eye is corrected for distance and the other eye corrected for either intermediate or near.
In contrast to Monofocal and Toric IOLs, Multifocal and Accommodating IOLs, also known as Presbyopia-Correcting IOLs (PC-IOLs), provide a full range of clearer vision at multiple distances: near, intermediate, and distant, thereby allowing a person to perform most of their daily activities with reduced or no dependence on glasses.
THE RLE PROCEDURE AND RECOVERY
RLE is usually performed as an outpatient procedure in an ambulatory surgery center like Benefield’s Coastal Eye Surgery Center. The primary difference between cataract surgery and RLE is that cataract surgery is performed to remove a patient’s cloudy lens, and RLE is performed to reduce one’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The eye is anesthetized to ensure patient comfort during the procedure. No sutures are required.
Multifocal and Accommodating IOLs cannot correct asigmatism, and some patients have a cegree of corneal astigmatism that will require additional correction. Relaxing incisions can be made in the outer margins of the cornea at the same time RLE is performed. These mcro-incisions, called Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRI’s), create a more symmetrical cornea, thereby reducing or eliminating astigmatism.
Patients go home soon after the procedure to relax for the rest of the day. Everyone heals somewhat differently, but many patients report improvement in their vision almost immediately, and most resume their normal activities within a day or two. RLE is usually performed on the second eye a week to several weeks after the first procedure. Your vision will continue to improve over time as your brain adapts to your new intraocular lenses.
Once stable, your vision is unlikely to change over time. In fact, patients having RLE now will avoid cataract surgery later in life.
We look forward to discussing your corrective vision options soon. Schedule your consult with Dr. Benefield today.