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Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Unlike laser corrective surgeries, which alter the shape of the cornea, a refractive lens exchange changes the focusing power of the lens within the eye. For this procedure, the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced by a manufactured lens implant which has been selected to provide clear focusing ability. The lens implant remains within the eye, without needing any further care after surgery. It provides a wide range of focusing freedom, but since it is a fixed focus lens, glasses or a monovision lens are necessary for all near vision activities such as reading, unless a new Lifestyle intraocular lens is used. Various degrees of monovision lenses are options depending on the visual focal distance desired in the reading eye.

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The Procedure

A refractive lens exchange is a simple outpatient procedure. Patients are sedated with oral or intravenous medications, if necessary. Only the selected eye is “frozen” for this painless surgery. In most cases, topical drops are used to anaesthetize the eye, so no injection is necessary.

A refractive lens exchange procedure is similar to modern cataract surgery. To begin, the surgeon makes a small incision in either the white area of the eye or on the edge of the cornea. The surgeon inserts a delicate instrument to create a smooth, round opening in the outer capsule of the natural lens. Using an ultrasonic suction probe, the surgeon gently breaks up and suctions out the gel from the lens capsule. Then, the surgeon inserts a high quality lens implant, and positions it securely within the natural lens capsule.

Gimbel Eye Centre surgeons use foldable lens implants, which are inserted through tiny incisions and then open up inside the eye where they are positioned to provide clear vision. The surgery is usually completed without stitches, since the incision is designed to be self-sealing. The whole procedure takes around 15 minutes.

Most lens implants can correct astigmatism. If needed, other surgical procedures can be combined with lens implantation to solve astigmatism focusing problems.

To speak to a Patient Counsellor about this procedure, please contact us.