Refractive Lens Exchange in Central PA

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ABOUT Refractive Lens Exchange

Our skilled team of eye surgeons at The Eye Center of Central PA is pleased to offer patients throughout the area an effective vision correction surgery known as a refractive lens exchange (RLE). 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 effective refractive lens exchange surgery to find out if you could be a candidate by contacting one of our offices throughout Central PA.


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. It can also allow those who have mild cataracts to receive two treatments in one: improving their vision with a lens exchange and removing a mildly diseased lens. In addition to helping patients with severe myopia and hyperopia, RLE can also aid those with presbyopia (age-related vision loss).


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, hyperopia, or presbyopia. 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 a week apart. Each procedure only takes about 15 minutes to complete, but the discomfort will set in after the numbing effects wear off. While patients will experience some discomfort, it should only persist for 1 – 2 days and can be managed with over-the-counter medications. While the eyes recover, individuals may notice blurry vision, glares, halos, or bouts of dry eye that will come and go. These symptoms are completely normal and should only last for a few weeks for some. For others, it could last months.

Following surgery, a member of our team will schedule post-operative check-in appointments at one of our locations throughout Central PA. During these visits, we will monitor your healing and overall health. Your new lenses will be long-lasting. However, if any issues or concerns arise, they can be replaced. 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 laser-assisted procedures, like LASIK and PRK, this alternative may be a wonderful solution to improve your vision and reduce your dependence on prescription eyewear and contacts. Contact The Eye Center of Central PA at one of our many locations throughout Central Pennsylvania to discover how RLE can benefit your eye health.

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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.