Should I Consider Refractive Lens Exchange?

Vision correction procedures have become increasingly popular in recent years. Procedures like LASIK are especially popular as they are highly effective and low-risk. 

However, LASIK isn’t suitable for everyone. Most vision correction procedures correct refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. 

But they don’t correct age-related vision loss, so they aren’t as effective for adults over 40 with presbyopia. However, there is an excellent option for adults with presbyopia who want to correct refractive errors simultaneously by having a procedure called refractive lens exchange (RLE). 

Refractive lens exchange is worth considering if you want to reduce the need for prescription glasses, contact lenses, and reading glasses. Keep reading to learn more about refractive lens exchange and if you should consider the procedure to correct presbyopia!  

What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a highly prevalent age-related eye condition. Most adults over the age of 40 develop presbyopia. 

It’s caused by the natural lens losing its flexibility due to aging. The muscles that flex the lens become weaker over time. The stiff lens makes it harder to focus up close, which is why many people with presbyopia use reading glasses.

Reading glasses are the go-to treatment for presbyopia, as they help you see better up close. However, they can be inconvenient. 

They only assist with up-close vision, so they need to be removed if you’re not reading or doing other fine-focus tasks. If you also have a refractive error and need prescription glasses and contact lenses, they can be even harder to use.

Refractive lens exchange, however, makes this seemingly endless back-and-forth easier because it corrects both presbyopia and refractive errors, significantly reducing and potentially eliminating the need for visual aids completely.

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Refractive lens exchange is a vision correction procedure that removes the natural lens from the eye and replaces it with an intraocular lens (IOL). IOLs ensure that you can see clearly after the natural lens is removed. 

IOLs come in many varieties, some of which can help you see better than others. Before having refractive lens exchange, you and your surgeon will choose what kind of IOL you’ll have placed in your eye. Before you can undergo the procedure, you’ll first need to qualify as a candidate for refractive lens exchange. 

Who is a Good Candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange?

If you have presbyopia and want to reduce your dependence on reading glasses or have both a refractive error and presbyopia and want to correct your vision, you may be a good candidate for refractive lens exchange. However, you need to be in good health with no medical issues or eye conditions that could interfere with the procedure. 

Most refractive lens exchange patients are in their 40s or 50s, but the procedure has no upper age limit.

Premium IOLs

When you have your consultation and are cleared for refractive lens exchange, you can start thinking about what kind of IOL you want. Monofocal IOLs are standard IOLs and are the only IOLs included in the price of cataract surgery. 

These uniform lenses help you see at one distance, either up close or far away. You’ll still need glasses to see at the opposite distance.

Some people can get something called monovision. Monovision means you’ll have one monofocal lens put in your eye for seeing up close and another put in the other for seeing at a distance. 

Over time, your eyes adjust to seeing between these two distances. However, some people’s eyes can’t adjust, so monovision won’t work for them. 

Before having refractive lens exchange, you can try out monovision with contact lenses. If you feel comfortable, you can do this with refractive lens exchange.

Besides monofocal lenses, there are premium IOLs. These IOLs require an out-of-pocket cost. However, they can provide clearer vision at a broader range of distances than monofocal IOLs and more effectively reduce or eliminate the need for other visual aids.

At New England Eye Center, we have several types of premium IOLs to choose from, including:

Multifocal Lenses

Multifocal lenses consist of different sections that alternate between two refractive powers: one for seeing up close and one for seeing at a distance. These IOLs train your eyes to look through the part of the lens that best helps you see what you’re looking at. 

Trifocal Lenses

Trifocal lenses are similar to multifocal IOLs, but instead of having only two refractive powers, they have three: one for seeing up close, one for seeing at a distance, and one for seeing at an intermediate distance. This design allows for clearer vision up close and at arm’s length.

Extended Depth of Focus (EDOF) Lenses

Extended depth of focus, or EDOF lenses, are similar to multifocal IOLs, but the division between the lens sections is blended, making the lens non-diffractive. This means they give a continuous range of vision and cause fewer visual aberrations since light doesn’t split over the lens.

Toric Lenses

Toric lenses are designed specifically to correct astigmatism. Many premium IOLs also come in toric models, ensuring you can enjoy improved vision and correction of refractive errors during cataract surgery in addition to correcting astigmatism.

Your surgeon can recommend an IOL based on your lifestyle, visual needs, and budget.

More Benefits

There are many reasons to have refractive lens exchange. Reducing your dependence on reading glasses and other visual aids can help you see better and live more independently. 

But there’s also another added benefit. If you get refractive lens exchange, you’ll never need cataract surgery. 

That’s because refractive lens exchange is virtually the same as cataract surgery. The only difference is you don’t need cataracts to have refractive lens exchange. 

Because cataracts can’t form on an IOL, you’ll never have to worry about developing them after having refractive lens exchange. With so many reasons to love this procedure, why not find out more?

Are you a good candidate for refractive lens exchange? Schedule your consultation at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA, to learn more and improve your life!

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