Refractive Lens Exchange in Central PA

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ABOUT Refractive Lens Exchange

For patients who are not eligible for LASIK or PRK Vision Correction, an effective vision correction surgery known as a refractive lens exchange (RLE) may be an alternative. Sometimes called a clear lens extraction or clear lens exchange, RLE is an efficient solution for men and women who have a severe degree of farsightedness or nearsightedness, thereby disqualifying them from receiving a laser eye treatment (such as LASIK or PRK).

A refractive lens exchange removes the eye's natural lens and replaces it with an IOL (intraocular lens) implant. Refractive lens exchange shares many similarities with cataract surgery and is conducted in the same manner; however, RLE does not take out a lens obscured by cataracts. If the severity of your refractive error disqualifies you as a candidate from LASIK or PRK, there is still hope. Learn more about refractive lens exchange surgery by calling today.


One of the primary benefits of a refractive lens exchange is that it can improve high levels of myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). RLE can be an excellent option for men and women who are not ideal candidates for a laser eye procedure (such as LASIK or PRK) due to a lack of available corneal tissue. Additionally, having RLE eradicates the potential for a patient to develop a cataract since the natural lens is removed and replaced.


A refractive lens exchange is very similar to cataract surgery; in fact, they are conducted in nearly the exact same manner with the primary difference being the goal of the treatment. For cataract surgery, a lens is removed when it has become clouded and obscured and is then replaced with an artificial lens. However, during RLE, the natural lens, which is typically healthy, is removed and replaced with an IOL to improve the patient's vision and correct refractive errors, like myopia or hyperopia. The artificial lens chosen will depend on your unique needs.

During your RLE session, we will numb your eyes with special eye drops and our on-site anesthesiologist will give you a mild sedative to ensure your comfort. Depending on your unique situation, we will then perform the surgery with a diamond blade or laser technology. A small incision is made into the cornea, and the lens is then removed and replaced with the IOL that was chosen prior to your surgery. The lens is then unfolded and will lay smoothly in place.

Because the incision is so tiny, sutures will not be needed; instead, the cornea will heal naturally on its own over the next few days. Many patients notice an immediate improvement to their vision with their fullest results developing over the next few days.


Patients who are having both lenses replaced will need to have their surgeries about two weeks apart. Each procedure only takes about 15 minutes to complete. For most patients, there is virtually no pain or discomfort following their procedure. While the eyes recover, individuals may experience vision fluctuations. These symptoms are completely normal and typically go away within a few days or weeks.

Following surgery, you will be scheduled for a series of post-operative appointments at one of our clinic locations. During these visits, we will monitor your healing and overall health. Patients who receive RLE are usually able to see much better at varying distances once their eyes have healed fully, reducing their dependence on prescription glasses and contacts.

long-term clear vision

A refractive lens exchange is an incredibly effective eye surgery that may dramatically enhance both your visual acuity and overall quality of life. For those who are not ideal candidates for vision correction procedures, like LASIK and PRK, this alternative may be a wonderful solution to improve your vision and reduce your dependence on prescription glasses and contacts. Contact The Eye Center of Central PA to find out if RLE may be the right solution for you.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models. Possible risks of LASIK include but are not limited to: dry-eye syndrome, which can be severe; possible need for glasses or contact lenses after surgery; visual symptoms including glare, halos, star-bursts, and double vision, which can be debilitating; and loss of vision. The results of cataract surgery cannot be guaranteed. Additional treatments and/or surgery may be necessary.