Refractive Lens Exchange(RLE), also called Clear Lens Extraction(CLE), is becoming an increasingly popular option for people over 40 who want to decrease or eliminate their dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The reason is that not only can this procedure correct the distance and intermediate needs of the patients, but, as a result of removing the natural human lens and replacing it with a “bionic” lens, we can also correct presbyopia, which is the aging of the eye that causes the need for reading glasses.
During the Refractive Lens Exchange(RLE) procedure, the eyes natural crystalline lens (which will eventually become a cataract in every human) is removed and replaced with an artificial lens(premium IOL) that’s corrects any existing nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. In addition, depending on the type of IOL that is selected by the patient and the surgeon, some or all of the patients reading difficulties can be corrected. Although the concept of RLE is relatively new, the lens materials that make up the premium implanted lenses have been used for 30-40 years and tens of millions of cataract patients, so there is nothing “experimental” here. Another amazing reality is that by removing your natural human lens now, you will never develop a cataract and never need cataract surgery in the future!
What to Expect on Surgery Day:
The RLE procedure is an outpatient experience that usually takes 15-20 minutes to complete, though you are in the facility for approximately 90 minutes. Topical or local anesthesia is used along with mild twilight sedation. The surgery is not painful. You might notice a slight pressure sensation or a rather pleasant light show during the procedure. A 2.8 mm microscopic incision is made in the eye and the natural lens is ultrasonically removed from the eye. The premium lens is then placed into the eye. Most of the time, sutures are not needed as the incision is self sealing. Surgery is performed on one eye at a time approximately one or two weeks apart.
What is Recovery Like?
The visual recovery is quite rapid, with most patients seeing better within the first hours of the procedure. The eye is covered with a clear shield for protection. You will be given an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drop schedule that will continue for a few weeks. You will also be given sunglasses. There are minimal restrictions following surgery and you will be given full instructions not only regarding use of the eye drops, but on a few “do’s and don’ts” for the first week. Patients are required to have a driver take them home after surgery and bring them the next day. You will typically be cleared to drive following your one day post operative visit. Standard post op visits are one day, one week, one month, three months.
Cost and Financing:
The Refractive Lens Exchange procedure is an elective surgery. As a result, insurance
companies typically do not cover this, however flex spending dollars can
be allocated for the procedure. The typical costs that the patient will
be responsible for are the cost of the surgery center facility fee,
anesthesiologist, surgeons fee, phakic implant, eyedrops and
postoperative care. The cost of a Refractive Lens Exchange procedure is approximately
50% higher than LASIK and can be completely reviewed by our surgical
counselors. In addition, there are several financing options that allow you to fit the costs of this procedure into your monthly budget.