RLE (refractive lens exchange)


RLE (refractive lens exchange) is the most suitable surgical option for age-related vision loss. It is also an option for severe myopia, severe hyperopia and severe astigmatism.

RLE is similar to modern cataract surgery, where the natural lens is replaced with permanent intraocular lens.

RLE is often recommended for patients over the age of 50 years, as the natural eye lens begins to become dysfunctional causing presbyopia.      

Before the procedure the eye is numbed with anaesthetic eye drops.

During surgery the natural lens is removed from the eye through a small incision, and an artificial lens is implanted through the same incisions. Sometimes a laser is used for parts of the operation. 

The three available types of intraocular lenses include:

  • Monofocal or single focus lenses which focus at either near, intermediate or far distance,
  • Multifocal lenses which focus at both near and far distance,
  • Extended Depth of Focus lenses which focus at all distances.


The RLE procedure usually takes around 15 minutes. Following the procedure an eye patch is placed over the eye to maintain cleanliness as the eye heals.

Both eyes cannot be treated with RLE at the same time but they may be treated one to two weeks apart.

Vision correction with RLE is achieved immediately, recovery takes just days and optimal vision is usually achieved within four to six weeks.

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