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Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) – An alternative to LASIK for those over the age of 50

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Refractive lens exchange, also referred to as clear lens exchange, is a type of eye surgery used to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness. It’s often performed on older adults who wish to eliminate the need to wear glasses or lenses. If you have extreme farsightedness or nearsightedness and do not qualify for laser eye surgeries such as PRK or LASIK, your doctor may recommend refractive lens exchange as an alternative procedure.

Refractive lens exchange is identical to cataract surgery, the main difference being RLE is performed in patients who do not have cataracts. Cataract surgery is performed to remove the cloudy eye lens that causes vision to become blurred, while refractive lens exchange is performed with the intention of removing the need to wear glasses or contact lenses.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, refractive lens exchange replaces your natural lens with a clear artificial lens, also known as an implant. Before the surgery, you may be given a mild sedative along with a topical anesthesia that may be applied with eye drops. Your doctor will remove your natural lens and replace it with an artificial lens. The new lens helps you see better and reduces your dependency on glasses or contacts.

Refractive lens exchange eye surgery is a great option for those:

  • Who are 50 years of age or older.
  • Who do not qualify for laser correction procedures like LASIK, SMILE or PRK.
  • Who want to reduce the need for reading glasses.

The other good news is that refractive lens exchange eliminates the risk of developing cataracts later in life as your natural lens has already been replaced!

Take the next step in your vision journey by scheduling a consultation to determine which procedure is best suited for you based on your individual needs and lifestyle preferences.

Call us at (480) 561-6000, or visit us online at, to book a consultation so that you can see the future clearly!