Lasik surgery,Refractive lens exchange

Hand throwing glasses in waste basket

Working in ophthalmology for over 15 years, I have always thought Refractive Lens Exchange or “RLE” is the most exciting ‘inside secret’.  It is not something many patients or consumers know about because we usually either think LASIK or Cataract surgery when we think about “eye surgery. Yet for many patients, RLE can clear up their vision, reduce or eliminate nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and that loss of near vison we get after 40! Plus, you don’t have to have cataract surgery later in life! Kinda like a triple play!

Which patients would RLE help?  First and foremost, patients that are in between “LASIK age” and “Cataract Age”. What does that mean? Most patients, obviously depending on their vision history and eye sight/eye health, will have LASIK between 20 and 40 years of age. After 40, most patients suffer from presbyopia (need reading glasses because they can’t see up close) and they have to wait until their 60’s for cataract surgery to fix ‘everything’ because LASIK cannot fix presbyopia.

So for patients in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even early 60s, the best option may be RLE.

In on-doctor wording, Refractive Lens Exchange is pretty much the same procedure as Cataract Surgery. Same procedure, different circumstances. 

Cataracts form with age and exposure to UV light – the natural lens is cloudy and vision is impaired.  Cataracts typically are removed later in life, when they interfere with your regular activities and replaced with intraocular lenses (i.e. artificial lenses).  In a Refractive Lens Exchange procedure, there is no full cataract formed but they are dysfunctional. So a skilled surgeon is essentially switching out your natural lenses,

So why would someone want the procedure if they don’t have a cataract?

Our natural lens by age 40-45 becomes stiff, dysfunctional and loses its ability to change shape to focus from distance to near. Not quite cloudy yet, but stiff. The stiffness, which we call presbyopia, typically requires either reading glasses or bifocals.  And when our Doctors perform RLE surgery, they will often use a lens technology that gives a broader range of vision than a typical single-focus lens.

Another reason is in order to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Due to our eye anatomy, some of us are  not LASIK candidates so RLE is a better option.

RLE is similar to LASIK in that they are considered “elective vision correction procedures” so they are a non-covered procedure whereas cataract surgery are generally covered by insurance.

If you have any of the below issues, you may be a Refractive Lens Exchange Candidate:

  • Increasing the font on your iPhone to read text messages
  • Already notice yourself having trouble seeing up close (presbyopia)
  • Having to buy reading glasses to see the menu at a restaurant
  • Holding things far away from your face to read them better (magazines, phones, tablets, menus)
  • You are “too nearsighted” or too myopic for LASIK
  • We are here to say you don’t have to wait until cataracts have gradually deteriorated your vision to make a change.

If you want more information and see an actual patient testimonial who had an RLE CHECK OUT this Patient Blog we posted.

Call us today at 713-626-5544 if you are interested or even if you just have questions! That is what we are here for!