Refractive Lens Exchange
Refractive Lens Exchange is a surgical vision correction option that involves the removal and replacement of your natural lens with an artificial lens. In doing so, this can correct vision (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia) and eliminate the future need for cataract surgery. Refractive Lens Exchange is increasing in popularity in patients over the age of 40 who want to decrease or eliminate their dependence on eyeglasses or contacts.
When we are younger, the natural lens functions similar to the zoom function in a camera, allowing us to focus up close, without the need for reading glasses or bifocals. As we age, the lens progressively loses its flexibility resulting in the gradual loss of near vision (presbyopia) that requires the use of reading glasses or bifocals. Eventually, the same lens gradually hardens and becomes cloudy (cataract), which scatters light coming into the eye thereby reducing visual quality, color perception, and visual acuity. Refractive Lens Exchange prevents progression of this process as the synthetic lens will not undergo any of these same changes.
Refractive Lens Exchange has many benefits, particularly the improvement in both distance and near vision. The lens implant options are the same as those used with cataract surgery.
Refractive Lens Exchange surgery is performed by our experienced ophthalmologist in an outpatient surgery center. Upon arrival at the center, topical anesthesia is achieved with eye drops and generally no need for needles. A mild sedative is given to prepare you for surgery. Patients are generally quite comfortable during surgery with no pain but only a pressure sensation and the appearance of a “light show.” During this time, the natural lens is broken up using vibrations into tiny particles that are then removed from the eye. Generally, no sutures are needed as the incision is very small and self-sealing. Surgery is performed one eye at a time. The other eye may be treated as soon as 1-2 weeks later.
Recovery from Refractive Lens Exchange involves minimal restrictions, even immediately after surgery. You will be using antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops for a few weeks to aid in the healing process. Standard post-op visits are 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 6 months and then yearly. You will need to have someone drive you home after surgery due to the sedatives used. Most patients find that they can usually return to work after the first post-op visit.
To learn more and determine whether Refractive Lens Exchange may be an option for you, contact Gulfcoast Eye Care to schedule an appointment.