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Refractive Lens Exchange

Because your eyes and vision needs are unique, another refractive surgery might give you better results than LASIK. At Oregon Eye Specialists, we also offer photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and refractive lens exchange (RLE).

These vision correction procedures are different from LASIK, but also safe and effective. Our experienced physicians will discuss your options with you.

About Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) improves vision without contacts or glasses. The doctor removes your eye’s natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens (IOL) adjusted to your chosen focus.

You could be a good candidate for RLE if:

  • You have presbyopia (loss of reading vision)
  • You are too nearsighted or farsighted for LASIK or PRK
  • Your corneas are too thin for safe LASIK or PRK
  • You have no other eye problems
  • You wish to eliminate your dependence on glasses or contacts while also showing early signs of cataracts

If you are over 40, have signs of cataracts, or both, RLE could be right for you. This is because RLE works the same way as cataract surgery. The doctor removes your eye’s natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens (IOL).

If you have RLE to reduce your need for glasses, you won’t have to worry about developing cataracts later in life. If you have early cataracts, you might have RLE without waiting until they develop enough to need surgery. Early cataracts or not, most insurance plans will still consider RLE an elective procedure.

At Oregon Eye Specialists, we offer a selection of premium intraocular lenses for RLE and cataract surgery.

Our doctors are experts on eye health and refractive surgery. At your consultation, your doctor will advise you on the best procedure for your eyes.

The RLE Procedure

Having RLE is similar to having cataract surgery. Your doctor treats one eye at a time, with procedures scheduled 1 to 2 weeks apart. The procedure lasts 10 – 15 minutes. Usually, you spend about 2 hours at our surgery center.

Before the procedure, we place anesthetic drops in your eye so you don’t feel any discomfort. We also give you a light sedative so you are relaxed and comfortable. An anesthesiologist is with you during the procedure to help ensure your safety and comfort.

During the surgery, your doctor makes a tiny incision at the side of your eye. A small probe with ultrasound (sound waves) is used to break up the old lens, which is removed with suction. Once this is done, your doctor puts the IOL in place. You usually wear a protective shield over your eye for the first day and then at night for 1 week after surgery.

After surgery, you rest in our comfortable recovery area for a short time and then go home. Because your eye is usually dilated, you will probably need sunglasses to protect your eyes from bright light. You might feel drowsy from the anesthesia, so you need someone to drive you home.

Your doctor will prescribe drops to prevent infection and help your eye heal. We’ll give you all the information you need to care for your eye, including activities to avoid and a number to call with any questions. You will have your post-surgery visit the next day and at regular intervals as your eye heals.

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