Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive Lens Exchange

A refractive lens exchange is for those who:

• want to reduce or eliminate their dependence on glasses or contact lenses
• may not be a good candidate for laser vision correction
• have no health issues affecting their eyes
• 40+ years of age


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 advanced technology intraocular lens implants (IOL's). Presbyopia is a progressive condition typically requiring individuals over the age of 40 to become dependent on reading glasses.

Millions of eyes have received IOL's when undergoing RLE using the same highly successful surgical techniques used in cataract surgery. 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 or for those individuals who may be showing signs of developing cataracts. 

A refractive lens exchange can be combined with premium lifestyle lens implants such as Toric (astigmatic correcting) or ReSTOR (multi-focal). For most RLE patients, life without glasses or bifocals is something they either experienced before age 40, or they just dreamed about for most of their lives. Today the lifestyle premium lenses are providing our patients with the ability to see clearly without dependence on glasses for distance and/or near.  Each of these premium lifestyle lenses is unique in their optical design and visual advantages. Which one is best for you depends on the unique characteristics of your eye as well as your lifestyle needs. After a thorough eye exam, Dr. Husain will make a recommendation as to which of these revolutionary lifestyle lenses would be most beneficial to you. If you are a good candidate, you will be given additional information about the procedure that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether to proceed.

The decision to have a refractive lens exchange is an important one that only you can make. The goal of refractive lens exchange is to reduce or eliminate your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. However, we cannot guarantee you will have the results you desire.

Serious complications with refractive lens exchange are extremely rare. It is a safe, effective and permanent procedure, but like any surgical procedure, it does have some risks. Going to an eye specialist experienced with the procedure can significantly minimize the risks involved with RLE.

The refractive lens exchange procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. Only one eye will be treated at a time. After the eye is completely numbed with topical or local anesthesia, the eyes natural lens will be gently vacuumed out through a tiny 2-4mm incision. Next the new intraocular lens will be folded and injected through the same micro-incision in the eye. The incision is self sealing and usually requires no stitches. This type of incision heals fast and provides a much more comfortable recuperation.

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  will now avoid needing cataract surgery later in life.

RLE is an elective procedure not covered by most insurance companies. Since this is not a medical necessity, you will be responsible for all charges incurred. Depending upon the choice of intraocular lens you choose for your eyes the costs of refractive lens exchange can range from around $4,000 to $5,000 per eye. Your employer’s flexible spending or cafeteria plan may offer tax advantages for RLE. We can help you understand your options and the out of pocket expenses involved. Financing is available.

The most important element to determining the right procedure for your eyes is to have a thorough eye exam and consult directly with Dr. Ejaz Husain.