What is refractive lens exchange surgery?

Refractive lens exchange (RLE), also known as lens replacement surgery, is a common procedure which involves replacing the natural lens inside the eye with a synthetic implant called an intraocular lens. It is performed to correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses. This procedure can also improve vision for those suffering from cataracts.

Who is suitable for corrective lens surgery?

RLE is suitable for patients aged 50 or over, although younger patients can be considered in some cases, for example if they are unable to have laser eye surgery, then eye lens replacement surgery can be a good option.

In summary it is suitable for:

• Dependence on bifocal, varifocal or multifocal contact lenses or glasses.
• Presbyopia.
• Long-sightedness (hyperopia).
• Short-sightedness (myopia).
• Astigmatism.
• Cataracts.
• Glaucoma

How does refractive lens surgery work?

Lens clarity and flexibility diminish with age, and many older patients who would like their sight corrected actually have the beginnings of a cataract. Replacing the natural lens is often therefore the best option for sight correction, even for patients with a lower prescription, particularly if they are long-sighted.

So is refractive lens exchange the same as cataract surgery?

Refractive lens surgery and cataract surgery are exactly the same procedure. When cataract surgery is performed primarily to correct the need for glasses, it is called RLE or lens replacement surgery.

Are the lens implants that you use permanent?

Yes, lens implants are permanent. They have given countless people a far greater quality of life by giving them back, or improving upon, their vision. As we have said, there can be eye lens replacement risks, but they really are few and far between and affect a very small proportion of patients.

What happens during lens surgery?

During your initial consultation, your specialist consultant eye surgeon will scan and test your eyes to determine your suitability for lens replacement surgery. They will also discuss the procedure’s benefits and potential risks, as well as agreeing on a personalised plan with you.

How much does RLE/lens replacement surgery cost and what is package pricing?

The initial consultation fee is £180. The full cost of your onward treatment will be confirmed once you have agreed your personalised plan with your consultant.

Once you have agreed a personalised plan with your consultant, the full costs of onward treatment starts from £2,500 per eye which includes take-home medication and one post-operative appointment. This price is approximate as the price of lenses varies depending on your individual needs.

RLE/ Lens replacement surgery recovery times and aftercare

Recovery times for this type of surgery vary but typically take between three to four days. It is normal for you to experience blurred vision and glare during this time, along with sensitivity and discomfort in your eye.

How safe is lens replacement surgery?

RLE/lens replacement surgery is one of the safest and most common procedures in the world, with more than 3 million surgeries being carried out each year in Europe alone.

As is the case with all operations, there are risks involved. Complications are rare and most can be successfully treated with medication or a follow-up procedure.