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Refractive Lens Exchange

“In my profession of providing customer service, I have never been somewhere where the customer service exceeded my expectations. And this was it. Durrie Vision is first-class.” -Loretta Copper

RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange)

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is gaining popularity as a surgical option for people age 40 and beyond who want to decrease or eliminate their dependence on glasses or contacts. During RLE, the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens to correct vision (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia) and eliminate the need for cataract surgery in the future.

When you are young, the natural lens acts like the zoom function in a camera, allowing you to focus up close, without the need for reading glasses or bifocals. As you age, the lens progressively becomes dysfunctional resulting in loss of near vision (presbyopia) that requires the use of reading glasses or bifocals. With aging, the lens also progressively becomes hard, yellow and cloudy (cataract). Cataracts block and scatter light reducing visual quality, quantity and color perception. This progressive loss of function of the natural lens inside the eye is referred to as Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome.

Your lenses continually age throughout life. This results in the need for reading glasses or bifocals in your 40′s and eventually cataract surgery in your 70s or 80s. Lens changes cause progressive deterioration in vision. More and more patients do not want to tolerate the years of progressive decline in their vision as they develop cataracts; they want it permanently fixed now. With the advancement in technology and the safety of the procedure, patients are now choosing to have their natural lenses replaced at an earlier age. After RLE, cataract surgery will never be needed. The artificial lens will not age which provides visual stability to the lens of the eye. There are several lenses to choose from to best customize to your specific eyes.  Options include: Presbyopia Correcting Lenses, Toric Lenses for Astigmatism, Aspheric Lenses, Multi-Focal Lenses, and Symfony Lenses.

Who is a Candidate for RLE?

RLE is an excellent solution for someone who is experiencing one or more of the following common visual changes:

  • Difficulty reading without reading glasses or bifocals
  • Difficulty seeing near objects
  • Difficulty seeing while driving, especially at night
  • Changing glasses prescriptions
  • Diagnosis of early cataract formation
  • High degree of farsightedness (hyperopia)

During the Advanced Ocular Analysis, a surgeon will be able to assess if this is the best procedure for your eyes. Refractive lens exchange is a lifestyle choice to bring your normal activities into focus. Our refractive lens specialists, Dr. Jason Stahl and Dr. Timothy Lindquist, will choose the lens that is right for you and that will best achieve your vision goals.

What to Expect on the Day of the Procedure

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is an outpatient experience. It is done one eye at a time and usually takes 10-15 minutes to complete. Topical or local anesthesia is used with a mild sedative to prepare you for surgery. Patients may note a pressure sensation and a “light show” during the procedure. The natural lens is broken up by ultrasound into minute particles and removed from the eye. Most of the time, no sutures are needed as the incision is small and usually self-seals.

Post-Operative Care and Recovery

There are minimal restrictions, even immediately after surgery. You will be using antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops for a few weeks to aid in the healing process. Standard post-op visits are 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months and 1 year. Patients are required to have a driver take them home after surgery and drive them to their one day post-op visit. Patients can usually return to work and normal activities after the first post-op visit.

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