Refractive Lens Exchange: RLE
Looking for LASIK or Laser Vision Correction but over the age of 40? Have you been told you are NOT a LASIK candidate due to your age? Well, we have great news for you – there is an option and it’s called Refractive Lens Exchange, commonly referred to as “RLE”.
What is “RLE”?
RLE is essentially the same procedure that a surgeon would perform if you were having cataract surgery, except the cataract has not formed yet.
Why would we do that? Well, a natural lens inside the eye is clear and flexible when we’re young. Later it begins to stiffen and lose its ability to focus inward from the eye’s focal point – this is why people in their 40’s and beyond begin to need readers or bifocals. This stiffening and narrowing of our focal range is called presbyopia. Even later than that, the lens gets cloudy and is called a cataract.
Dr. Slade will essentially swap out the lens that you currently have (your natural lens) for a brand-new lens that works with the optics of your eye to assist your eye in your goal of losing glasses or contact lenses.
Can’t see Far?
We have so many patients that come to us after age 39 wanting to get rid of their glasses, only to be told they really can’t because if their myopia (nearsightedness) is treated, their presbyopia will soon kick in and they will need either reading glasses or a subtle offset of the eyes in which one eye is focused closer than the other.
Can you have LASIK over age 50?
The quick answer is ‘YES, however we may have something better for you!”
LASIK is NOT the only option available if you want laser vision correction. LASIK is usually a procedure that would take place in patients aged 21-45…
Can’t see Close? Needing Reading Glasses?
Patients have chosen RLE quite a bit to correct presbyopia. Presbyopia is the weakening of the elasticity of your natural lenses. It is when our natural lens becomes dysfunctional which happens to everyone over time, some of us younger than others. We typically notice it at a restaurant when reading our bill. Do your arms not feel long enough? Are you already having to think about reading glasses? Modern, advanced lenses do an amazing job of restoring the visual range that is lost through normal eye aging.
After age 40, so many of us start to notice our reading vision deteriorate due to presbyopia and LASIK cannot directly treat this because LASIK reshapes the eye surface or our ‘cornea’ with a laser. LASIK does not do anything with our natural lens which is the main issue causing presbyopia. If a patient has lost reading vision and really wants the LASIK procedure, we can move forward with an option called monovision – a technique where one eye is corrected by the laser for distance and the other eye is corrected for near vision/reading.
However, with patients like this who are looking to have vision correction after 40, our suggestion would be LENS-based vision correction instead of laser-based vision correction (i.e. LASIK).
What is Lens-Based Vision Correction?
Lens-Based Vision Correction is a Refractive Lens Exchange or RLE. As we shared in the beginning, RLE is a procedure which corrects the dysfunctional lens issue and it can correct everything else that LASIK can correct during that procedure as well. If a patient having RLE chooses an advanced technology IOL or artificial lens, RLE can correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (when you lose reading vision from a bad lens) and astigmatism!
RLE can also help many LASIK cannot because even patients with thin corneas or high prescriptions can have RLE. LASIK has a lot more ‘criteria’ or requirements before a patient can be deemed ‘a candidate’.
Another great perk, is that once you have RLE, you will never need cataract surgery! Since RLE replaces your natural lens before a cataract forms in it! Many patients choose to have RLE due to the sheer need for the ease of life with no lenses/glasses.
If you find yourself needing LASIK or have already started losing your reading vision, call us at 713-626-5544 or write us at email@example.com to meet with one of our highly specialized surgeons today!
The doctors at Slade and Baker Vision have either authored or reviewed and approved this content.