Refractive Lens Exchange
Refractive lens exchange (RLE) replaces the natural clear lens inside your eye with an artificial lens to reduce your need for glasses or contact lenses.
What is refractive lens exchange?
Refractive lens exchange, also called lens replacement surgery, is a procedure that removes your natural lens and replaces it with a new artificial lens to provide greater spectacle and contact lens freedom.
There are two main types of artificial lenses, called intraocular lens (IOL):
- Monofocal IOLs – improve distance sight only. They reduce spectacle dependence for driving.
- Multifocal IOLs – improve distance, middle and near vision. They reduce spectacle dependence for a wider range of activities, including driving (distance), computer screens (intermediate) and reading (near).
IOLs with built in astigmatism correction are also available. In suitable patients RLE can be combined with laser eye surgery for further astigmatism treatment options.
Refractive lens exchange is suitable if you are over 50 years old and your glasses prescription is higher than the normal range for laser eye surgery or you have the beginnings of cataracts. RLE and cataract surgery are exactly the same operation. They just performed for different reasons.
What does the refractive lens exchange procedure involve?
Refractive lens surgery is an outpatient procedure, usually carried out using anaesthetic eye drops to numb your eye, and takes around 20 minutes.
Your surgeon makes a tiny cut on your cornea. They break down your natural lens using high energy ultrasound, known as phacoemulsification, and remove the lens fragments with a fine tube. They then insert your new artificial lens into its place.
Each eye is done separately, usually about a week or two apart.
What are the benefits of a refractive lens exchange?
The benefits of refractive lens exchange include:
- Improved vision and reduced need for glasses or contact lenses
- Supports leading an active life more easily
- About four out of five patients are completely free of glasses after RLE surgery
- If glasses are required after RLE, it is usually for a specific activity
- Removes the need for cataract surgery in the future or if you have early stages of cataract formation
- Stable vision afterwards, providing you do not develop a new eye health problem.
Refractive lens exchange cost
Refractive lens surgery costs start from £2450 depending on the type of IOL used and if laser eye surgery is also performed.
We also offer pay as you go payment options and interest free finance plans to suit your financial preferences.
Refractive lens exchange surgery is not available on the NHS and it is not covered by private health insurance.
What happens after a refractive lens exchange?
After refractive lens exchange you can go home. You will need someone to accompany you as your sight will be impaired.
You will have an eye pad and shield to protect your eye and prevent rubbing.
Eye drops will be given to help your eye heal and prevent infection.
You will be offered a follow up appointment.
Your vision will be blurred for a few days whilst your eye adjusts to the new lens.
You can expect to return to work after a few days following your RLE.
After ten to fourteen days, you will enjoy clearer vision.
Refractive lens exchange with West Valley Hospital
West Valley Hospital offers you appointments for refractive lens exchange surgery at a time to suit you and without waiting.
Our highly skilled and experienced consultant ophthalmologists routinely perform refractive lens exchange surgery. They provide professional advice and answer all of your questions.
We have competitive and affordable packages as well as interest-free finance plans so that you can immediately proceed with RLE once you make your decision.
We have a fully equipped ophthalmology suite with the latest equipment and a support team who have in depth experience of treating patients having eye surgery.
Contact us to book an appointment!