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(317) 202-0669

Thank you for trusting us with your eye care! We are open and serving our community. For a list of how our office is evolving, click here.

LET’S TALK!
(317) 202-0669
Schedule Your Free Virtual or
In-office Consult Today

What is the Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)?

Refractive lens exchange, or RLE, can sometimes be the best option for a patient who is not a candidate for one of our other refractive procedures. RLE replaces the eye’s clear natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens to correct vision and achieve sharper focus while reducing the need for reading glasses or bifocals.

Why RLE?

RLE is typically for patients with presbyopia or extreme farsightedness that might not be ideal candidates for LASIK or PRK. RLE may be the most viable option for patients with both presbyopia and moderate to severe hyperopia.

RLE is not for severe farsighted patients – it is for mild to moderate farsighted and nearsighted patients with presbyopia. It can be an alternative for LASIK or KAMRA.

Refractive Lens Exchange Versus
LASIK and PRK

RLE vs Other Procedures

Although LASIK and PRK are the more popular procedures, refractive lens exchange is a good alternative for many people struggling with refractive errors and dependence on visual aids. In fact, refractive lens exchange may be the better option in many cases because it can correct nearly any degree of farsightedness (instead of only mildly to moderately severe cases) and presbyopia, which LASIK and PRK do not address. Another advantage of RLE is that it eliminates the need for cataract surgery later in life as the artificial lens cannot develop cataracts.

Who It’s Best For

RLE is typically for patients with presbyopia or extreme farsightedness that might not be ideal candidates for LASIK or PRK. RLE may be the most viable option for patients with both presbyopia and moderate to severe hyperopia. The procedure for RLE is virtually identical to cataract surgery.

Are You a Candidate for RLE?
Schedule Your Free Virtual Consultation Today!

Have Questions About Your Vision? We would like to invite you to a free virtual consultation where all of your questions will be answered.

FAQs

What Happens During the Procedure?

RLE is performed on an outpatient basis. Usually, both eyes are treated separately. The procedure itself is nearly identical to cataract surgery, except that RLE replaces a clear lens and cataract surgery replaces a cloudy lens. The eyes are completely numbed to prevent any discomfort during the surgery. A small incision is created in the corner of the eye to access the capsule that holds the lens. An opening is made in the capsule and the lens is carefully removed. Then, an intraocular lens implant (IOL) of the patient’s choosing is carefully positioned in the same capsule that held the natural lens.

What Is the Recovery Like?

Many people experience instant vision improvement after surgery and can resume work as soon as the day after surgery. Patients can expect to resume the rest of their everyday activities, including exercise, within about a week of surgery. They should be careful not to touch their eyes or get sweat, dust or smoke in their eyes for a month after surgery as the eyes heal.

How to Prepare for Your Procedure

Fast After Midnight

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure. Morning medication can be taken with a small sip of water.

Minimize Your Morning Routine

Wash your face well with soap and water the morning of your procedure but do not wear any makeup, hair products, perfume, aftershave or lotion on the day of your procedure.

Bring a Friend

You’ll need to arrange for someone to bring you in for the procedure and pick you up once the procedure is completed. Your guest is more than welcome to accompany you through your procedure. If they wish, they may watch your procedure live from our “friends and family viewing area.” If your guest chooses not to view the procedure, they may wait in our comfortable lounge or simply return to the center one hour after your arrival time.

Review the Informed Consent Document

Take the time to read the Informed Consent document prior to the day of your procedure. Please do not sign the document until you are with your surgeon on the day of your procedure. Additionally, if you happen to develop a cold sore the week of your surgery, please call us to let us know. For your safety, it may be best to reschedule your procedure if you have a cold sore.

What to Expect Day
of Procedure

Arrive on Time

Plan to arrive at the surgery center two hours before your scheduled time. A 20/20 Institute Representative will be there to assist you. Do not wear watches or jewelry on your procedure day.

Meet the Surgeon

Meet with Dr. Zeh to review your procedure and the plans for your post-operative care as well as sign consent forms.

Prepare for the Procedure

Receive relaxation medication to reduce your anxiety. Please let our doctors and staff know if you would prefer not to take the relaxation medication.

The Procedure

The procedure takes about 30 minutes per eye. Only numbing eye drops are used as an anesthetic. Our team will make sure you are comfortable and will talk you through the entire process.

After the Procedure

After the procedure, you will be in a recovery room for about 30 minutes. Most patients will be discharged 30 minutes after their procedure. You MUST have someone drive you home after the procedure.

Total office time is approximately 2.5-3 hours.

How Much Does RLE Cost?

Am I a Candidate For RLE?

How Much Does RLE Cost?

Am I a Candidate For RLE?

FAQs

How do I know if I’m a candidate for refractive lens exchange?

The best way to determine whether you are a candidate for refractive lens exchange is to meet with a qualified eye surgeon for a one-on-one consultation. In general, you might be a good candidate if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia.
  • Do not qualify for LASIK because of the degree of your refractive error.
  • Want to reduce or eliminate your dependence on glasses or contacts after surgery.
What type of artificial lenses (IOLs) are used?
Monofocal IOLs restore vision at a single distance, requiring patients to wear glasses to see at other distances. Multifocal or accommodating IOLs restore vision at multiple distances to reduce or eliminate the need to wear glasses. And toric lenses are designed to help correct astigmatism caused by an irregularly shaped cornea.
Will I feel the IOL in my eye?
No, you will not be able to see or feel the IOL inside your eye.
How long will the IOL last?
IOLs are designed to last permanently.
Will I need eyeglasses or contact lenses after refractive lens exchange?
It depends on the type of IOL that you and your surgeon select. If you have a multifocal or accommodating IOL, it is not likely that you will need visual aids.
Is refractive lens exchange covered by insurance?
Typically the procedure is not covered by insurance since it is considered elective.