RLE (refractive lens exchange) is a procedure typically performed for individuals over the age of 40 with presbyopia combined with significant hyperopia, myopia and/or astigmatism. In RLE the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) which has been selected specifically for the individual to achieve their desired refractive outcome. RLE is performed to correct a wide range refractive errors and improve uncorrected visual acuity.
RLE is the same procedure as cataract surgery, the only difference is that the lens being removed is clear and without cloudiness (as it is where there is a cataract). RLE (or cataract surgery) can be performed using either using the conventional or laser assisted techniques. The laser assisted technique utilises a very precisely focused laser to perform the incisions and facilitate removal of the lens, offering unprecedented accuracy and safety. LaserVision Victoria has a proud history in utilising state of the art technology for its patients. It was the first facility in Victoria to perform laser assisted RLE with the introduction of the ALCON LenSx Femtosecond Laser in 2012.
Following RLE, glasses dependence is significantly reduced, however does not guarantee complete independence of glasses. The two main options to reduce dependency of glasses with RLE are monovision – inducing some myopia (or short-sightedness) in your non-dominant eye to provide you some clarity up close and assistance with reading, or multifocal IOLs which have three focal points to improve unaided vision for near (reading) intermediate (computer use) and distance (driving). The alternative is to aim for distance vision with both eyes and rely on reading glasses (magnifiers) following your treatment.
RLE procedure, like cataract surgery, is usually performed one eye at a time, generally 5-10 days apart. Usually only local anaesthetic eye drops are required combined with mild sedation. The procedure time is relatively short, taking less than 30 minutes to complete.