Refractive Lens Exchange

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) and cataract surgery are exactly the same operation. When cataract surgery is performed primarily to correct the need for glasses, it is called refractive lens exchange (RLE). Lens clarity and flexibility diminish with age, and many older patients who would like their sight corrected actually have the beginnings of a cataract. Replacing the natural lens is often therefore the best option for sight correction, even for patients with a lower spectacle prescription.

In older patients who have a spectacle prescription that is out of range for laser eye surgery (myopia > -10.00 D; hypermetropia > +4.00 D), or those with severe dry eyes or thin corneas where laser surgery is not recommended, refractive lens exchange is the best option. Almost any level of long or short sight or astigmatism can be corrected with refractive lens exchange.

Why is Refractive Lens Exchange preferable to ICL in older patients?

Loss of the ability to focus the natural lens for reading in older patients (presbyopia), and the increased likelihood of cataract developing in the near future, means that refractive lens exchange is preferred for older patients in the reading glasses age group, rather than ICL implantation.


What happens during refractive lens exchange (RLE)?

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) and cataract surgery are exactly the same operation. Surgery is performed via a keyhole incision, where the natural lens is removed using a high frequency ultrasound by a process called phacoemulsification, and a flexible artificial lens implant is inserted to sit within the natural lens capsule.

When Femtosecond Laser is used to carry out RLE this gives unprecedented precision and accuracy to cataract surgery, making it safer and more predictable, and tailored to each individual eye shape.

Combined with sophisticated multifocal lens implants, patients can look forward to the best possible vision after cataract removal or RLE surgery.

RLE/ cataract surgery is carried out under local anaestheticand you can go home after surgery. Recovery is quick, aftercare is simple, and there are few restrictions on activity after surgery. You can normally return to work within a few days. Surgery is normally performed on one eye at a time, with the two operations typically 1 or 2 weeks apart.

What are the risks of RLE surgery?

RLE is very safe, but not risk free. In round numbers, approximately 1 in 2000 patients could potentially have a problem leading to permanent visual loss in the affected eye. 1 in 100 patients could potentially require a revision operation but still get a good final result, and 1 in 10 people require a minor laser procedure at some stage, either to fine-tune the focus or a common one-off procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy in which a specialized laser is used to cut through the lens capsule if it mists over behind the new lens.

Over 90% of people whose eyes are otherwise healthy are able to see at the driving standard or better without spectacles after cataract surgery, and low risk laser procedures can normally be used to fine-tune the result if required. A variety of multifocal lens implant options are available to correct near range vision, for patients who would like greater spectacle freedom.

Why Choose Valerie Saw for your Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery?

Valerie is an outstanding surgeon who has carried out thousands of refractive lens exchange operations. With impressive attention to detail and consistently world class results, she has a reputation for excellence and innovation in eye surgery. Continuity of care is paramount to Miss Saw and you will see her at each and every visit. Her aim is to give patients the best possible vision, no matter how complex or unusual their condition.

Valerie Saw

Don't take our word for it

Reviews from happy patients

Margaret Picken
I have only the highest praise for Valerie Saw and gratitude for her professionalism, kindness, and clear and calm advice before, during and following YAG laser capsulotomy on my right eye and the...
Kenneth Fish
Valerie Saw carried out cataract surgery on me as a private patient in April of 2011 at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. I am absolutely delighted with the outcome and can't praise her skills...
Christ Stott
Ms Valerie Saw is a friendly and very professional eye surgeon. She is very thorough during the examination. Valerie is courteous and immediately put me at ease providing just the right amount of...
Julie Brownson
I could not be happier with my decision to have laser eye surgery to correct short-sightedness/astygmatism performed by Miss Saw. Miss Saw is professional, calm and reassuring. She talked me through...
Carole Jones
What a lovely lady! What a fantasitic surgeon......My husband has only had one good eye since birth, and that was getting worse and worse. He had to wear glasses all the time and it makes things...
Heather Pearce
Absolutely delighted with result and service, couldn't be happier!
Bola Awoyinka
I had absolutely no idea of what to expect when I discovered cataracts in my eyes. And I was living abroad. On my first visit, during my initial consultation Valerie explained in very simple but...
Katie Price
Having laser eye surgery was the best decision I have ever made and, given the serious nature of the surgery, I researched the procedure and the best surgeon for me before commiting to it.The whole...
Kevin Carnegie
I was considering having laser eye surgery on my right eye. I consulted Valerie who diagnosed me with keratoconus. Valerie recommended inserting a Keraring in my eye instead of laser treatment. The...
Ruth Rowland
I’m very happy with my diagnosis and treatment. I elected for laser surgery in my right eye to improve short sightedness. Ms Saw diagnosed Blepharitis, a condition I had suffered with for some time...

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