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RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange)

At Kovach Eye Institute, we are dedicated to providing Chicagoland with advanced vision correction options. We want you to have the best vision possible at every stage of life. Our refractive surgeons offer Refractive lens exchange (RLE) for patients seeking less dependence on glasses and contacts, including those looking for a reading vision solution.

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How Does Refractive Lens Exchange Work?

Refractive lens exchange, sometimes called clear lens exchange, is a vision correction surgery that improves vision by replacing the eye’s natural lens with an intraocular lens implant (IOL). Unlike laser vision correction surgeries such as LASIK, RLE does not change the shape of the cornea to correct vision. By replacing the crystalline lens of the eye, RLE can correct a wide range of refractive errors, including presbyopia.

Benefits of Refractive Lens Exchange

  • Improves vision at multiple distances
  • Can correct presbyopia and astigmatism
  • Can reduce or eliminate the need for glasses, including reading glasses
  • Prevents cataracts from developing in the future
  • May be an option for patients who are not candidates for LASIK

Who is a Good Candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange?

The ideal candidate for RLE is:

  • Age 40 or older
  • In good general health with no history of retinal detachment
  • Seeking correction for nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia, and/or astigmatism

Preparing for Refractive Lens Exchange

The most important step before RLE surgery is your consultation appointment at one of our Chicago area offices. During your consultation, one of our eye doctors will examine your eyes, review your vision and medical history, discuss your concerns, and answer any questions you have about your vision correction options. If RLE is right for you, we will give you detailed pre-procedure instructions.

Your Refractive Lens Exchange Procedure

RLE is an outpatient procedure performed with local anesthesia. RLE is typically performed one eye at a time, with procedures spaced several weeks apart. On surgery day your eye will be numbed so you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. The surgical technique is similar to cataract surgery. The surgeon will make a very small incision to remove your eye’s lens and replace it with your customized IOL. The entire procedure typically takes less than 15 minutes and no sutures are needed.

Recovery After Refractive Lens Exchange

Your vision may be a bit blurry immediately after surgery and you may experience mild, temporary discomfort when the anesthetic wears off. It is very important that you do not rub or touch your eyes. You will be given an eye shield to protect your eye while you sleep. You will also be prescribed antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops and your eye doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your healing. Patients typically resume regular activities within 2 days of their procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions About Refractive Lens Exchange

How does RLE compare to LASIK?

RLE treats the lens of the eye while LASIK treats the cornea. RLE is sometimes referred to as a “LASIK alternative” because it may be an option for patients who are not good candidates for laser vision correction. RLE is especially beneficial for people who are in their 40’s through 60’s and would like to reduce or eliminate their need for reading glasses. With advanced IOL options, RLE can treat presbyopia but LASIK cannot.

What kind of IOL will I get for my RLE procedure?

There are more IOL options than ever and the specialists at Kovach Eye stay on top of technology to offer the most advanced lenses possible. There are extended-depth-of-focus lenses, multifocal, accommodating lenses, astigmatism-treating lenses, and more. Your eye doctor will recommend the lens that best fits your lifestyle and vision needs. Learn more about lens options.

Are there risks involved in RLE?

RLE is considered a very safe procedure, but any surgical procedure carries some risk of complications or side effects. Risks of RLE include inflammation, infection, bleeding, and retinal detachment.1

Will RLE be covered by insurance?

Similar to laser vision correction, RLE is considered an elective procedure and is not usually covered by insurance. At Kovach Eye we want to make better vision a reality for you, so we offer financing options. A member of our team will review pricing and payment options at your consultation appointment.

Contact Us

Are you ready to see the world with clear vision? Contact us with any questions about RLE or to schedule your consultation appointment.

630-833-9621 locations request an appointment patient registration LASIK Special