How Do I Know If I’m a Good Candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange?

Are you tired of wearing glasses and contact lenses? Or maybe you’re just frustrated with the constant on-off nature of needing to use reading glasses?

A popular alternative to these visual aids is vision correction surgery. But there are multiple kinds of vision correction surgery.

One popular procedure that’s great for older adults is refractive lens exchange or RLE. But is RLE for you? If the following points describe you, it may very well be! Keep reading to find out if you could be a good candidate for refractive lens exchange!

You Have Presbyopia

refractive lens exchange

Refractive lens exchange is a procedure designed to replace the natural lens in your eye with an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens (IOL).

This is primarily used as a way to treat presbyopia. Presbyopia is an age-related condition that makes your natural lens less elastic. The decreased elasticity makes it harder to focus, so people with presbyopia struggle to see up close.

Presbyopia is something that develops as a result of aging and is the reason why you need to wear reading glasses. However, RLE can also treat refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

In general, refractive lens exchange is best for treating presbyopia. If your primary issue is a refractive error, you may want to consider a procedure like LASIK or PRK.

But if you have presbyopia and want to treat your astigmatism simultaneously, RLE is an excellent choice. Many artificial lenses, called intraocular lenses (IOLs), come in toric versions. Toric lenses are the only IOLs that specifically correct astigmatism. By choosing a toric IOL, you can treat your astigmatism and your presbyopia at one time.

LASIK Isn’t Right for You

Most people with a refractive error qualify for LASIK. However, around 15% of people who go in for a LASIK consultation get screened out for one reason or another.

Reasons you may not qualify for LASIK include having corneas that are too thin or a pre-existing eye condition. These are only some reasons someone wouldn’t be a good LASIK candidate.

You also may qualify for LASIK but struggle with presbyopia along with a standard refractive error. LASIK cannot treat presbyopia, so getting LASIK wouldn’t eliminate your need for glasses. If you got LASIK with presbyopia, you would likely still need reading glasses to see things up close.

older woman trying to read book

If you’re over 45, you’re more likely to have presbyopia, even if you haven’t noticed it yet. While many people can successfully have LASIK well above 45, you get the most out of LASIK the younger you have the procedure.

LASIK is permanent, but it doesn’t prevent age-related conditions like presbyopia. But RLE can give you a new lens that will help your declining vision so you can get the most out of it no matter what your age.

LASIK may not be suitable for you for any of these reasons, and in those cases, RLE may be the better choice. Just be sure to talk to your eye doctor to make sure you’re making an informed decision. They can discuss all of your vision correction options and recommend the best one for you, which may be having refractive lens exchange.

You Want to Reduce Your Dependence on Reading Glasses

older woman with reading glasses on

If you have presbyopia, chances are you depend on reading glasses, bifocals, or progressive lenses. You may even have bifocal or progressive contact lenses.

Wearing glasses and contacts can be a pain, so refractive lens exchange may be perfect for you if you want more independence from them. RLE isn’t 100% guaranteed to eliminate your need for reading glasses or other presbyopia aids, but it’s likely to reduce your dependence on them.

The odds that RLE will eliminate your need for visual aids are dependent on what kind of IOL you choose. When you get RLE, you can choose from several different types of IOLs. Each kind of IOL offers up unique benefits for the wearer.

If you’re going to have RLE and want to get the most out of it, you should go with a premium IOL. Premium IOLs are more advanced than standard IOLs and provide clearer up-close vision, so you’re less likely to need reading glasses.

Some IOLs are best for up-close distances. Some offer the best vision at a near and middle distance, which is great if you’re a frequent electronics user as you can stay a safe distance from the screen and still see clearly.

At New England Eye Center, we offer our patients the newest and most state-of-the-art premium IOLs available. Talk to your eye doctor about your options. Their recommendation will depend on your goals after refractive lens exchange, lifestyle, and visual needs.

You Don’t Have Cataracts

RLE is very similar to another procedure, which is cataract surgery. Both surgeries remove the natural lens and replace it with an IOL.

man trying to read cell phone

The only difference is that you have the natural lens removed during cataract surgery to remove the cataract formed inside it. Your natural lens is still clear in refractive lens exchange because you haven’t developed any cataracts yet.

If you have cataracts, you’ll have cataract surgery rather than RLE, but it’s essentially the same procedure. You can still treat your presbyopia at the same time.

If you don’t have cataracts and have RLE, you’ll never have to worry about developing cataracts. Cataracts form in the natural lens, making it cloudy and more challenging to see through as they mature.

But cataracts cannot form in an IOL because it’s artificial. If you choose to have refractive lens exchange, not only will you improve your vision, but you’ll also never have to worry about having cataracts.

Want to learn if refractive lens exchange is the right vision correction for you? Schedule an appointment at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA, now!

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