When RLE Is Recommended as an Alternative to LASIK/PRK

istock_000009901162_full-1024x680If you are considering your refractive surgery options, you are probably familiar with the LASIK and PRK procedures. However, what you may not know is that there is another option called refractive lens exchange, or RLE, that can capably treat refractive errors (in addition to another common visual disorder). Read on to learn more about this procedure and understand when the team at Bochner Eye Institute recommends it in place of LASIK or PRK.

How RLE Works

RLE is very similar to cataract surgery (the steps are virtually identical). Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the world and the techniques have been greatly refined over time. The key difference between RLE and cataract surgery is that in an RLE procedure, the lens is not cloudy, like a cataract-diseased lens; rather, it is clear.

During the RLE procedure, the eye’s natural crystalline lens is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL) of a specific power. This eliminates the refractive error affecting vision and restores clear, sharp focus at all distances. After RLE, patients are less dependent (or not dependent at all) on reading glasses or bifocals.

RLE usually takes about 15 minutes per eye and results are almost immediate. The recovery is short and typically lasts a few days, depending on the patient.

Reserved for Adults Ages 40+

RLE is generally recommended to patients that are over the age of 40, have a refractive error and presbyopia (the age-related loss of reading vision) and want to prevent the development of cataracts later in life.

RLE is also recommended to individuals with very high degrees of nearsightedness or farsightedness, for whom LASIK and PRK are neither recommended nor effective.

Should I Have RLE?

There are many benefits of RLE. Perhaps most importantly, replacing the natural lens eliminates the hassle and cost of frequently changing eyeglass prescriptions as vision succumbs to the effects of presbyopia. Many patients are able to save thousands of dollars on readers, bifocals and frequent appointments with their doctor, thanks to the RLE procedure.

RLE also prevents cataracts and the need for cataract surgery down the line. The IOLs placed during RLE are not susceptible to clouding and the related visual distortion. Avoiding the cost and time commitment required by cataract surgery is another very attractive benefit to RLE.

Learn More about Your Vision Correction Options

If you would like more information about any of the vision correction procedures mentioned in this post — RLE, LASIK or PRK — the team at Bochner Eye Institute can help. Please call 416-960-2020 or email our practice today.