VISION CORRECTION WITH REFRACTIVE LENS EXCHANGE
Refractive lens exchange is exactly the same procedure as a cataract operation. There is absolutely no difference between the two except for the motivation for performing it. Thus, if you are considering this procedure, read the section on cataract surgery.
REASONS FOR PERFORMING IT
In cataract surgery, an operation is performed because the normally clear lens has become opaque impairing vision. Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) although exactly the same procedure, is performed on a clear lens in order to correct vision to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses.
WHY RLE AND NOT LASIK?
In patients over the presbyopic age (>45), the natural lens is losing its ability to focus and the age of cataract is approaching. It therefore makes more sense to replace the natural lens than to perform a laser procedure only to later on do a second operation when cataract develops.
Some patients may be out of range for lasik or have other factors which make them poor candidates for lasik. This group may well benefit with RLE. In patients in the pre-presbyopic age (<45) this kind of surgery can be performed but usually isn’t because the ability to focus to read (accommodation) would be lost.
VERY HIGH SCRIPTS
Some younger patients may have extreme scripts that put them outside the range for lasik and may be willing to forego reading ability in exchange for good distance vision. It would however mean that unless monovision or some other strategy is employed, reading glasses would need to worn after surgery.
As RLE is essentially a cataract procedure, the risks are exactly the same.