If you are over 45 years old and tired of reading glasses or have declining vision, RLE may be the solution for you.
What is Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) eye surgery?
RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange) is a vision correction technique for patients who are over 45 years old and frustrated with their reading glasses and decline in vision. RLE is also known as the Lifestyle Lens because it allows patients to return to many of the activities that they enjoy.
During RLE surgery, the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial Intraocular Lens (IOL) to correct and focus your vision. RLE is a very similar procedure to cataract surgery, which is the most common surgery performed worldwide. The only difference is that, in RLE, the natural lens of the eye isn’t cloudy and the primary objective of the surgery is to reduce dependence on glasses.
At VISTAeyes, we have a range of premium IOLs to suit your eyes and your lifestyle. We take very accurate measurements with advanced equipment to select the IOL that is right for you. The IOL can help you see near or far, or a multifocal IOL can be selected to treat both visual distances simultaneously. For most patients, RLE can result in total independence from wearing glasses.
Who is suitable for RLE eye surgery?
RLE treats short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia) and/or astigmatism, however, the most suitable candidates for RLE surgery are bifocal or multifocal wearers in the 45 plus age group. RLE can also be used for people with high prescriptions or in cases where the patient is unsuitable for laser eye surgery.
How does RLE eye surgery work?
RLE surgery is performed by Dr Justin Sherwin as a day surgery. Before the procedure the anaesthetist will give you a light sedative to ensure that you are relaxed, calm and comfortable. Anaesthetic eye drops will be used to numb your eye.
Dr Sherwin creates a very small opening in the eye, less than 3mm in length to reach the lens. Here he makes an opening, known as a capsulorhexis. An ultrasound probe is then used to break up and remove the lens from the eye. This process is called phacoemulsification.
Once these fragments of the cloudy natural lens are removed a replacement Intraocular Lens (IOL) is inserted into the eye. The IOLs are flexible and are folded so that they can fit through the tiny opening. Once inside the eye, they unfold into position. The IOLs are permanent.
The procedure takes less than 30 minutes but you will stay at the day procedure centre for approximately 2 hours while you recover. You should have someone drive you home and stay with you for the day.
Usually the eyes are treated a minimum of one week apart.
What to expect after RLE eye surgery
You will need to arrange for someone to collect you and stay with you at home after the procedure. You should plan to avoid strenuous activity for 48 hours.
Until all the drops wear off, your vision may be blurry, however, most patients see well the next day. You vision will likely fluctuate as the eyes heal then settle over the first few weeks following RLE surgery. There may be some mild discomfort or a gritty sensation for a few days after the procedure.
After RLE surgery, Dr Sherwin will prescribe anti-inflammatory drops to take for a few weeks.
RLE eye surgery: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Does RLE surgery hurt?
This technique is painless for most people. You will be given anaesthetic drops before the procedure to ensure a comfortable procedure.
How long until I notice an improvement in my vision?
You will see improvement the very next day.
When can I resume normal activities?
The procedure is performed on one eye the first week, and the other eye the following week. Normally the vision returns quickly, and you can typically drive and work one day after the second eye is treated.
What are the risks?
RLE surgery has a high degree of safety, as does most cataract surgery, but there are potential complications that will be detailed for you at your initial consultation.