Unlock the Full Potential of Your Vision
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is a custom vision correction procedure that is intended for people aged 40 or older whom have started to develop dysfunctional lens syndrome (presbyopia) or the early stages of cataracts. In dysfunctional lens syndrome, the eye's natural focussing lens begins to undergo a hardening process that reduces the flexibility needed to adjust your vision as you attempt to change your focus from distance to near objects (ie, reading up close). This results in blurred fine print, difficulty adjusting from distance to near vision, and eyestrain. The RLE procedure was adapted from the highly successful and most commonly performed surgery in the world: cataract surgery. In both procedures, the dysfunctional or cloudy lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial lens that is designed to last the rest of your life. And in both procedures, we now are able to take advantage of advanced technology lens implants that can vastly improve the range of our vision compared to what we are experiencing through the natural aging process. With RLE, the specific goal of the procedure is to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses and contact lenses, potentially for 20-30 years or more!
Having RLE also means that you will not need cataract surgery in the future, as the lens is removed as part of the procedure. Waiting for cataracts to "ripen" is an outdated concept, as advanced procedural techniques no longer require cataracts to fully mature before removal. In fact, waiting too long to have cataracts to be removed actually increases the complication rate and overall time of recovery. By having RLE prior to full development of catarats, you'll never have to worry about the gradual vision decline associated with cataracts, as you're preventing cataracts from the beginning!
Refractive Lens Exchange eye surgery is quick, and typically painless as well. The surgery itself takes 10-15 minutes for each eye, typically done on the same day. During the procedure your surgeon will carefully rinse the natural lens of your eye and replace it with an artificial Intraocular Lens Implant (IOL) that is typically manufactured from high-grade materials such as acrylic or silicone. There are multiple advanced technology IOLs which serve various vision correction needs. You and your surgeon will discuss your vision goals and decide which IOL is the best choice for you with your RLE procedure. There are monofocal IOLs, toric IOLs, extended depth of focus (EDOF) IOLs such as the Vivity IOL, and trifocal IOLs such as the PanOptix IOL. Many patients are now opting for the RxSight Light-Adjustable Lens (LAL), which allows us to fine-tune your vision after surgery with a non-invasive light treatment that adjusts the power of your vision. After your procedure you may notice some minor side effects, such as glare and halos, depending on the IOL you ultimately choose, and some patients still may require reading glasses for very fine print in dim lighting conditions.
Just like LASIK, when the RLE procedure is combined with an advanced technology IOL like the PanOptix, Vivity, or Light-adjustable Lens, we are able to correct myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), and even astigmatism! In addition, we are able to correct presbyopia (the need for reading glasses with age), so most patients do not need glasses or contacts for common activities like reading your smartphone or tablet, restaurant menus, and your computer screen.
No, LASIK is a laser procedure that reshapes the front of the eye to correct your vision. But after age 40, LASIK cannot address presbyopia unless a monovision correction is done (one distance, one near). If you've been told you aren't a candidate for LASIK due to thin corneas or dry eyes, then RLE might be the best option for you to correct your vision, particularly if you are 40 or older. In addition, patients have a much lower rate of dry eye following RLE compared to LASIK, as the incisions are much smaller with RLE.
Yes, in some cases patients under 40 who are not a candidate for SMILE, LASIK or the EVO ICL may consider RLE if they have a high prescription and are struggling with tolerating their glasses or contact lenses. A careful discussion with your surgeon regarding the risks and benefits is important, which you will have at your consultation.
While dysfunctional, if the lens still hasn't yet fully developed an "insurance-significant" cataract, the RLE procedure will not be covered by medical or vision insurance. In order to take advantage of the many benefits of RLE for the years prior to developing an "insurance-significant" cataract, the procedure is an out of pocket expense, however you can use FSA or HSA accounts to cover the expense. The costs are the same as if you were to have a modern cataract surgery procedure with advanced technology IOL, which as discussed above, you'll never need in the future after having RLE! As with our other vision-correcting procedures, RLE comes in an all-inclusive package which includes the surgery, the advanced IOL, all post-operative related care, your eye drop medications, and any potential enhancements or adjustments needed. The total cost will depend on your unique eyes and goals, as the specific lens recommendation will vary from individual to individual. The cost range for the our all-inclusive RLE Packages is $3450 - $5950 per eye (varies by lens). We also offer 0% financing over 24 months through Alphaeon credit to help spread out the cost of visual freedom!
Call or text us at 248-710-2325 to speak with one of our vision coordinators and set up a complimentary consultation with Dr. Vrabec