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Choosing Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is an ideal vision-correction option for many patients who are not good candidates for LASIK. This includes individuals with severe myopia or hyperopia, or whose corneas are too thin for laser vision correction.

RLE sharpens vision by implanting an artificial intraocular lens (IOL), in a procedure that is virtually identical to cataract surgery. Here, the experienced West Palm Beach and Jupiter vision care professionals of Mittleman Eye discuss this effective surgical solution and its many benefits.

Best Candidates

RLE is often recommended for patients with moderate to high farsightedness, especially those over 45 with presbyopia. Because your eye’s natural lens is replaced with an IOL, the clarity of your vision will remain stable for a lifetime. There are many IOLs to choose from, including monofocal, multifocal and advanced “accommodating IOL” designs. Your new implant will allow you to achieve 20/20 vision or better.

The Procedure

The surgery to replace your natural lens is a quick, convenient and routine outpatient procedure, requiring just 15 minutes per eye. RLE is performed on one eye at a time, with a one- to two-week interval.

Before the procedure, your ophthalmologist will take detailed measurements of your eyes to ensure your new implant will be a perfect fit. This will include custom corneal mapping (also known as corneal topography) and macular OCT imaging. 

Local anesthetic delivered via eye drops is the most commonly used analgesic, but additional sedation may be provided upon patient request. A device will be put in place to prevent blinking, allowing your surgeon unobstructed access to the eye. During the surgery your ophthalmologist uses a femtosecond laser to make a small incision in the cornea, through which the natural lens is broken up with a needle-thin ultrasound probe. The resulting debris is then suctioned out and the clear, resilient implant is inserted. In some cases the incision will be closed with self-sealing sutures.

RLE Recovery

Recovery from RLE surgery is quick and predictable. After your procedure is complete, you will be given special eye drops to decrease inflammation and protect against infection. Your eye will be bandaged with a protective patch or shield that you can remove at home, but will wear when sleeping. Your vision should be clear enough to allow you to resume daily activities in a few days. This includes driving, although you may notice some temporary sensitivity to bright lights.

If you would like to learn more about refractive lens exchange, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation with an experienced ophthalmologist at our West Palm Beach or Jupiter office by contacting Mittleman Eye today.