Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) in Huntington Beach, CA
19671 Beach Blvd. Suite 400 Huntington Beach, California 92648
Also serving, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, & Orange County
Who Is a Good Candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange?
While LASIK works best for patients who are under the age of 40, RLE is suitable for people over 40. During middle age, the lens goes through some natural changes that make an IOL a more practical and effective treatment.
Age is not the only factor. RLE is also the better option for patients with weak or irregular corneas that should not be reshaped with a laser. In cases where a patient’s myopia or hyperopia is severe enough to be outside the recommended limits for LASIK, a high-quality IOL can often handle the correction.
RLE Long-Term Benefits
There are some long-term benefits to the procedure as well. While in some cases the effects of laser correction can fade a bit over time, refractive lens exchange is indefinitely. Moreover, cataracts — which affect about half of all Americans over the age of 75 — are unable to form on these lenses.
During a consultation, the expert doctors at Clarity Eye Group can evaluate your vision and determine your candidacy for RLE or an alternative procedure.
RLE Intraocular Lens Options
Clarity Eye Group offers an extensive selection of premium IOL brands:
- Alcon PanOptix
- Alcon AcrySof IQ Vivity
While some eye centers only offer one or two choices, our doctors prefer to have an array of options so that we can best treat your unique vision needs. We use state-of-the-art technology to get precise measurements of your sight and will make a professional recommendation based on these tests.
Refractive Lens Exchange Procedure Details
Ahead of your surgery, you will receive numbing eye drops to help keep the procedure pain-free. Your surgeon will start by cutting a small slit in your eye. Through that opening, the surgeon will perform phacoemulsification to break apart and pull out the eye’s natural lens. Next, the surgeon will replace the lens with an IOL where it will remain in place permanently. The whole procedure is completed in about half an hour.
A week later, you will return to the office to treat the other eye. We intentionally separate these procedures so that you are never completely visually impaired during your recovery. It is also wise to verify that there have been no complications with the first eye before proceeding with the other one.
Recovery from Refractive Lens Exchange
Most patients will be able to see better as soon as the eyedrops wear off, though it will probably take multiple weeks before the full results manifest with the quality of vision fluctuating in the interim.
You should plan to have someone else drive you home from the procedure and look after you for the first day. Focus on resting and relaxing rather than engaging in strenuous activity for at least two days.
While the eye is healing, you may experience small side effects like blurry vision halos around light or glare. You may also notice some slight discomfort, though that can be managed with pain medication.
Refractive Lens Exchange FAQ
How do I choose which type of IOL to use?
Prior to scheduling your RLE procedure, our doctors will conduct a comprehensive vision exam to get precise measurements of all refractive errors in your eyes. They can then recommend the types of intraocular lenses that will best address your vision imperfections.
Usually, if your distance is blurry at only one distance (near, middle, far), then monofocal lenses are the best option. When you need to correct your vision for multiple distances, then multifocal or accommodating IOLs are a more appropriate choice. Since multifocal lenses are pricier, some patients with blurry near and far vision decide to get monofocal lenses for their distance vision and wear reading glasses occasionally for near vision.
How much does refractive lens exchange cost? Is RLE covered by insurance?
Since each type of IOL has a different price, the total cost of RLE depends on which premium lens you use to correct your vision. The team at Clarity Eye Group provides a quote during the consultation phase so that you may make an informed decision about your vision care.
Because glasses or contact lenses can also help you to overcome your refractive errors, RLE is considered an elective surgery. Accordingly, insurance plans do not typically cover RLE. Fortunately, we do accept financing plans through CareCredit, a leading medical lender, so you can make payments toward the total cost of the procedure if you would find that helpful.
How long can I expect my new refractive lenses to last?
IOLs are extremely durable. They are designed to work effectively for the rest of your life. Although you always have the option of switching out one artificial lens for another type if your prescription changes significantly, you should not need to repeat this surgery.
What can RLE do for presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a progressive condition in which near vision gets blurrier due to a hardening of the eye’s natural lens. This affects almost all adults after the age of 40. By replacing the lens, RLE can be useful in improving your eyesight affected by presbyopia. A good strategy to address presbyopia is to use multifocal IOLs or differing monovision lenses (one for distance, one for up close) in each eye.
Can RLE treat astigmatism?
While RLE is a great procedure for overcoming myopia and hyperopia, it is not effective for treatment of astigmatism. Since astigmatism is usually due to an irregularly shaped cornea, inserting a new lens does not correct that problem. If we determine that you have astigmatism during your vision exam, our doctors can suggest a complementary or alternative procedure to ensure your vision is its best with minimal need for prescription eyewear.
How is RLE different from cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery and refractive lens exchange are essentially the same procedure. Both involve removing your eye’s natural lens and replacing it with a clear lens that improves your vision. Because IOLs are incapable of developing cataracts, those who choose to have RLE surgery in middle age can avoid the hassle of having cataracts later in life.
Make an Appointment
If having a minor surgery to avoid the hassle of wearing prescription lenses seems like a worthwhile bargain, meet with the eye team at Clarity Eye Group to determine if refractive lens exchange can improve your vision. For an appointment, please call (714) 842-0651.