Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is an alternative to LASIK or LASEK laser eye surgery – LASIK & LASEK. It can correct any degree of short or long-sightedness and also astigmatism; plus it is ideal for people over 50 years old.

Refractive lens exchange removes the natural lens from your eye and replaces it with a lens implant that permanently corrects your focus. You can never develop cataracts after this procedure.

Refractive Lens Exchange, also known as clear lens replacement, is a procedure designed to reduce a person’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses.

The eye has a lens that works much like the lens of a camera to keep things in focus. Sometimes the power of that natural human lens is not correct for the eye. The result is blurred vision from either nearsightedness, or farsightedness. Refractive Lens Exchange corrects nearsightedness or farsightedness by replacing the eye’s natural lens with an artifical lens known as an intra-ocular lens implant.

Refractive Lens Exchange is most often recommended when a patient is not a good candidate for laser vision correction procedures, especially in cases where the cornea is too thin. It is not generally recommended for people under 45 years of age, although there can be exceptions. As with any surgery, complications are possible, but refractive Lens Exchange is generally considered to be quite safe.

View Video


Just as with laser eye surgery – LASIK & LASEK, your surgeon will accurately measure your eyes and your unique focusing error. We use the very latest technology, including the state-of-the-art Zeiss IOL Master 500, to take incredibly precise measurements of your eyes. Using these measurements, your artificial lens implants are tailor-made for your eyes, to custom-correct your unique vision imperfection. When correcting astigmatisms we use the Oculus Pentacam and choose the ideal intraocular lens for your eyes.

With laser eye surgeries such as LASIK, your vision is corrected by changing the shape of your cornea. However, this does not prevent the natural aging of the lens, which leads to conditions such as presbyopia – up close blurry vision caused by the decreased flexibility of your eye’s lens.

Over time, your lens will lose its vitality and you will experience blurriness in your vision; this process is called Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome. With elective lens replacement surgery – also known as Refractive Lens Exchange – the lens is removed and an intraocular lens (or IOL) is implanted into the capsule that held the natural lens in place. The capsule then shrinks and seals itself around the IOL, holding the new lens in place securely.

By replacing your natural lens with an IOL, you not only avoid the effects of dysfunctional lens syndrome, but you can prevent the need for cataract surgery later on.

We will work with you to determine the best IOL implant for your vision needs. Certain premium IOLs, such as multifocal IOLs, will allow you to see both near and far, and improve the vision problems found with presbyopia.

View Video

RLE surgery is relatively fast, painless and safe. It is performed under local anaesthetic and the procedure itself only takes a few minutes. Thanks to our advanced technology no stitches are needed. Afterwards, you will be able to go home almost straight away and you should be able to resume normal activities such as driving, walking and sports in a few days. Your vision will be very good the day after surgery and better again the following day. You will also need to use eye drops for around six weeks.

Your surgeon will only carry out RLE surgery on one eye at a time, and you will be able to have your second RLE operation after two to four weeks.

After the surgery, you may experience some minor side effects, including radial halos at night, starbursts, veiling glare and flare, and ghosting.

Important Information

RLE is also a good option if your optometrist or eye surgeon detects the early stages of cataracts in your eyes. With RLE surgery your natural lens is removed, so there will be no possibility of a cataract developing in the future.

The very best patient care and comfort
Our experienced ophthalmic surgeons will be with you every step of the way; and for peace of mind will give you their personal mobile numbers so you have professional support 24/7 after your treatment.

Make an appointment today

Exeter Eye is a specialist ophthalmic eye clinic treating all eye conditions and offering the very best in patient care and comfort. We always ensure we fully understand your condition and lifestyle before identifying your treatment options and then help you choose the best one for you.

For more information or to discuss reflective lens exchange (RLE), make an appointment with one of our eye specialists today. Simply fill out an enquiry form or call Exeter Eye on 01392 699969.

Share this: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail