what is Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)?
At Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley in San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA, we have helped many patients who suffer from refractive errors or visual disorders that hinder their overall visual health. We provide a range of procedures, including refractive lens exchange (RLE), which we generally recommend for men and women in their 50s and older. RLE can help with vision loss (presbyopia) caused by aging and for patients with severe farsightedness. RLE is the same exact procedure as cataract surgery – same preop, same procedure, and same IOL. The only difference is who pays for the procedure. Insurance companies pay for cataract surgery because the vision is significantly compromised with glasses. However, providers typically do not pay for RLE, because, like LASIK, they argue that the patients can just wear glasses or contact lenses. Whereas cataract surgery is performed on patients who have vision complaints as a result of the clouding of the natural lens, RLE is performed on patients who want to reduce the need for glasses. Cataracts are universal and eventually, we all need cataract surgery. The average age for cataract surgery for patients in the USA is in their late 70s. RLE essentially just speeds up the biological clock so that cataract surgery will not be needed later in life.
RLE is an advanced treatment that gently eliminates the original lens on the eye and exchanges it with an intraocular lens (IOL). The new lens allows light to go through the eye and focuses correctly on the retina for better and clearer vision. Our board-certified ophthalmologists have extensive experience performing RLE, and they proudly provide several IOLs types, such as multifocal, to meet your unique goals and concerns. Please reach out to either of the offices in Encino or West Hills to learn more.
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What are the Benefits of Refractive Lens Exchange?
There are a number of reasons patients choose RLE at OAV. This procedure is known for providing vision correction with minimal downtime and little discomfort. Our team creates a personalized approach to ensure the results you want. With RLE, you can enjoy:
- Crisp and clear vision
- Improved night vision
- Reduced risk of glare, halos, and starbursts
- Little-to-no need for glasses or contacts after the procedure
- Fewer side effects compared to other treatments
- Improved quality of life with better overall visual health
am i a candidate for RLE?
Refractive lens exchange is often suggested to patients who have serious issues with farsightedness or presbyopia. For patients who want LASIK or PRK but do not qualify for the surgeries, refractive lens exchange is an excellent treatment choice. Although we can use RLE to treat nearsightedness, we prefer other less invasive procedures, such as LASIK. RLE may also reduce the possibility of developing a cataract because we take out the damaged lens and exchange it with a new healthy lens.
how does refractive lens exchange work?
All RLE are done in the same medicare approved outpatient surgery as our cataract surgeries. These procedure are done under topical (eye drop) anesthesia. Sedation is given through an IV by our Board-Certified anesthesiologists. Before we start your procedure, we will numb your eye with specialized eye drops and provide a mild sedative to help you remain comfortable throughout the surgery. Next, one of our expert ophthalmologists will make a small incision near the side of your cornea and then insert a pen-shaped device to break apart the damaged lens. Finally, we will exchange it for an intraocular lens (IOL), which may include options with monovision, multifocal, and/or toric IOL's. Because the incision is tiny, the eye will naturally heal on its own, and you will not need sutures. RLE is an outpatient treatment and patients can resume normal activities almost immediately and drive the next day. Following your procedure, you should experience optimal results in about two weeks.
how long is recovery AFTER RLE?
If you need surgery for both eyes, each eye is performed at separate appointments, which we schedule a week apart. Before releasing you, our team will provide in-depth, post-operative directions to ensure your eye heals correctly. After your surgery, you should have someone drive you home. However, many men and women may start driving again after about a week. Typically, patients tend to experience mild symptoms after their treatment, although, these are normal and should subside after a few days. Additionally, you may experience fuzzy vision, halos, or glares, but these side effects will continue to improve over time. We will schedule follow-up appointments so we can continue to monitor your healing. If you have questions in between your visits, please do not hesitate to call our office.
Refractive lens exchange FAQ
Is refractive lens exchange safe?
Refractive lens exchange is one of the most commonly performed procedures to correct vision problems. It is considered very safe when performed by a board-certified ophthalmologist at OAV. Patients who have had RLE at our clinic generally report excellent results with few side effects, especially when following our post-procedure instructions.
Is refractive lens exchange permanent?
Once the lenses are placed, they do not need to be removed or replaced unless recommended by a professional. For this reason, the results from RLE should last for years. Patients in Los Angeles, CA, should continue to attend regular eye exams to ensure that their vision remains clear and healthy for life. Our ophthalmologists will continue to monitor the lenses during follow-up visits.
Do I need to wear glasses after RLE?
Most patients are able to see well without corrective eyewear like glasses and contact lenses. However, a small number of patients may still require glasses for specific tasks like reading or driving. Our team at OAV can perform an assessment and help determine if you could need glasses after your surgery. The answer varies from patient to patient.
achieve long-term clearer vision
Refractive lens exchange can offer substantial improvement to your eyesight and can help diminish your need for prescription glasses or contacts. For patients 40 and older who struggle with seeing or constantly needing to wear glasses, please schedule an appointment at Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley in Encino or West Hills. We provide comprehensive eye exams to determine if RLE is a good treatment option for your condition. We look forward to helping you live a better quality of life.
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