Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

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Refractive lens exchange surgery, commonly known as RLE, is an innovative eye surgery that can correct a range of refractive errors to drastically improve vision. At Bernitsky Vision in Albuquerque, New Mexico, our experienced RLE surgeon offers custom RLE to help patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia restore their vision.

Am I a Candidate for RLE?

Patients in their 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s who are considering LASIK may realize that RLE is a better option for them because LASIK cannot prevent presbyopia. Presbyopia is age-related loss of near vision and it is the reason that most people over 40 require reading glasses. While monovision LASIK may also be a good option to reduce the need for reading glasses, RLE can correct presbyopia and prevent the development of cataracts. Sometimes patients who have been diagnosed with early cataracts, but for whom cataract surgery is not yet considered medically necessary, will also opt for preventative RLE.

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How Does RLE Surgery Work?

Using the same technique as cataract surgery, RLE is an elective, outpatient vision correction surgery. The RLE process starts with a consultation appointment with an experienced eye surgeon at our Albuquerque office. Once you have determined that RLE is right for you, your eye doctor will create a personalized treatment plan. On surgery day your eyes will be numbed with anesthetic eye drops and your surgeon will make a tiny incision to remove your eye’s natural lens. Your lens will be replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) that is designed to improve your vision. The surgical portion of RLE typically takes less than 20 minutes.

Intraocular Lens (IOL) Options for RLE Surgery

There are a number of IOL options available for RLE patients. Advanced IOLs can correct for distance and intermediate vision, as well as improve reading vision and treat astigmatism. At Bernitsky Vision we offer a range of multifocal lenses, accommodating lenses, extended depth of focus lenses, and toric lenses.

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Recovery After RLE Surgery

RLE patients will return home the day of surgery and should plan to have a friend or family member ready to drive them home. Recovery from RLE requires minimal downtime, and patients typically return to work and regular day-to-day activities within 2 days. Your RLE surgeon will prescribe eye drops and will schedule follow-up visits. It is important to follow all post-operative instructions to ensure the best results possible.

Benefits of RLE Surgery

Patients who have had RLE at Bernitsky Vision often report a greater quality of life due to improved vision or freedom from dependence on eyeglasses. Potential benefits of RLE include:

  • Can improve refractive errors, including farsightedness, nearsightedness, presbyopia and astigmatism
  • May be suitable for patients who are not candidates for LASIK
  • Can reduce or eliminate dependency on glasses or contact lenses at all distances
  • Eliminates the risk of developing cataracts
  • May improve night vision

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