Refractive Lens Exchange
in Saskatchewan & Regina

A Laser Eye Surgery Alternative

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is a procedure used to surgically correct refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. It’s quite a bit different than laser eye surgery procedures like iLASIK and SMILE, and can be an alternative solution for those wanting freedom from glasses but don’t qualify for laser eye surgery.

The lens and the cornea are both responsible for refracting (bending) light to focus on the retina. Laser eye surgeries reshape the cornea to correct vision. However, those with thin corneas or issues with the lens won’t experience the full benefits of laser eye surgery. This is where RLE can play its part.


What Is Refractive Lens Exchange?

RLE is nearly identical to cataract surgery, only it can be performed on eyes without cataracts. RLE involves removing your natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens in your prescription. This new lens should last the rest of your life.

RLE can correct the usual refractive errors, like myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, presbyopia and, of course, cataracts.

How Does Refractive Lens Exchange Work?

A small incision is made in your eye to access the lens. Your natural lens will either be broken up using a laser-assisted ultrasonic probe and the pieces suctioned out, or your natural lens can be removed through the incision. 

A new, clear intraocular lens is implanted where your natural lens was. The type of replacement lens will depend on your vision needs. It could be a monofocal lens to correct a certain refractive error or a multifocal lens to help you see well at multiple distances.

RLE surgery usually takes around 15 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis. Both eyes undergo surgery during the same appointment.

After Surgery

Recovery usually takes about a week. You’ll likely experience some blurred vision, halos, glare, or a scratchy feeling as your eyes heal.