Many older people or those with strong prescriptions assume that they would not make a good candidate for laser eye surgery. With advancements in technique and practice happening at an exponential rate, there is now a great alternative for patients for whom traditional laser eye surgery would not be suitable.
Refractive lens exchange reduces the need for glasses or contact lenses and in some cases, can mean patients are entirely glasses-free. It is a great alternative for older patients or those with very strong prescriptions for whom conventional laser eye surgery would not be suitable. RLE can be used to treat a range of conditions such as hyperopia (long sight) and myopia (short sight) and is an excellent option for patients exhibiting the early signs of cataract degeneration.
How does refractive lens exchange work?
During the procedure, the patient's lens is removed and replaced with a clear, synthetic, intra-ocular lens - much like traditional cataract operations. The difference being that the lens exchange is done to correct vision rather than replace damaged lenses.
Patients can choose the prescription of the new IOL and can opt for multi or monofocal lenses. Coupled with this, patients with IOLs remove the risk of cataract surgery later in life as the original, natural lens is removed.
Recovery after refractive lens exchange
The procedure is carried out while the patient is awake with anaesthetic drops. Patients return home the same day (as long as someone else drives them home) with an eye patch that they must wear at night in the week following surgery. On the day of the surgery itself, there will be a feeling of grittiness, light sensitivity, and minor discomfort. Usually, normal washing and non-contact sports can recommence the day after surgery. Patients are prescribed anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory drops to administer at home. Discomfort associated with the surgery normally reduces significantly two or three days following the procedure, though there may be variable discomfort for a few weeks longer. Patients normally feel able to return to work and driving around two weeks after the procedure with follow-ups the day after surgery, at one month, three months, and then one year after surgery.
According to The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, around 95% of patients are satisfied with the outcome of refractive lens exchange surgery. With many patients describing RLE as life-changing, the surgery offers a fresh perspective for patients who would not benefit from traditional laser eye surgery.