Refractive Lens Exchange
LASIK vision correction is not always the best treatment option for patients who are severely farsighted (meaning they have trouble seeing clearly up-close). In a similar circumstance, some people in their 40s and 50s come into our office complaining that their near vision is getting worse and they are worried that they are becoming farsighted. In reality, most of these latter patients are experiencing the signs of presbyopia.
Surprisingly, these are two different vision conditions that can both be corrected by the same procedure: refractive lens exchange (RLE). This process involves removing the natural eye lens and replacing it with an artificial Intraocular Lens (IOL) that is designed specifically to help you achieve the clear vision you want. After a comprehensive evaluation, our doctors can recommend the right type of IOL to meet your vision requirements (monofocal, multifocal, accommodating and Toric).
RLE is very similar to cataract surgery – but you do not have to have cataracts to experience the benefits. In fact, you may even be spared the experience of developing cataracts in the future!
Difference Between Farsightedness & Poor Reading Vision
True farsightedness (hyperopia) is the result of the eye being shorter or having a flatter cornea so light entering the eye focuses behind the retina. This causes blurry vision for reading and performing other up-close tasks.
Poor Reading Vision
Presbyopia is the term for how the eye lenses begin to age after age 40. With each passing year, the eye lenses become a little less flexible and a little more rigid. This makes it more difficult for the lenses to flex enough to focus on things like text messages, restaurant menus, medicine bottles and more – especially in low light.
Traditional prescription glasses and contact lenses can help farsightedness; reading glasses and bifocals can improve presbyopia. However, the daily hassles of maintaining and keeping track of lenses cause many people to look for treatment options.
How Refractive Lens Exchange Works
Our doctors begin the RLE procedure by applying numbing eye drops to the eye being treated (only one eye is treated during the visit). You remain awake during the procedure; the eye drops numb the sensation of pain for most patients. When the eye is ready, the doctor makes a small incision on the cornea to gently break up and remove the natural lens and insert the new lens. The procedure typically takes about 15 minutes and the incisions heal naturally without any stitches.
Refractive Lens Exchange Recovery
Plan to allow yourself a week to recover from RLE. Your final vision results may take a bit longer to achieve as your vision stabilizes. Your new lens will not be noticeable to other people and you won’t even know it is there – you’ll just be reminded of how great life can be without lenses.