What is refractive lens exchange?
|Best Suited to treat|
Refractive Lens exchange (RLE) is a type of lens replacement surgery which replaces your eye’s natural clear lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to correct your vision and achieve sharper focus, reducing your need for reading glasses or bifocals.
In the UK RLE has a 98% success rate and offers an alternative to laser eye surgery for those who are over the age of 40 and want a permanent solution for vision correction.
The procedure is very similar to a cataract operation, the most commonly performed procedure in the world. However, unlike cataract surgery, RLE does not remove the cloudy lens found in a cataract patient and instead replaces the natural lens with a more accurate lens which improves vision.
RLE can also correct myopia (short-sightedness) and astigmatism but LASIK is preferred as it can achieve a greater degree of accuracy for myopic and astigmatic patients.
How much does refractive lens exchange cost?
Refractive lens exchange can cost between £2,000 and £4,000 depending on the on the type of lens that you have implanted.
There are two main types of intraocular lens (IOL) used in refractive lens exchange:
- Multifocal IOL: Multifocal IOLs can focus at multiple ranges. This means they can correct vision at distance and up close.
- Monofocal IOL: Monofocal IOLs are only able to focus at a single range. They can be set for near and intermediate vision, but are most commonly set for distance vision. This means your distance vision is fully corrected but you would still need to wear glasses for reading or computer use, even after surgery.
The chart below displays the costs from the clinics that we work with.
|Type of IOL||Price|
|Multifocal IOL||From £2095 per eye|
|Monofocal IOL||From £1795 per eye|
Multifocal lenses are more expensive as the results promise a greater degree of vision correction, they can offer freedom from glasses and contact lenses and are a perfect solution for those who enjoy sports or find glasses problematic.
If you’re happy wearing reading glasses and only want distance vision corrected then monofocal lenses are a cheap, effective solution.
RLE financing options
Clinics are able to offer financing options for both multifocal and monofocal IOLs. While some clinic rates may differ slightly below are the rates from the clinics we work with.
|Treatment||10 months 0% APR||24 Months 11.5% APR||36 Months 11.5% APR||48 Months 11.5% APR|
|Multifocal IOL||£179 per month||£83 per month||£58 per month||£46 per month|
|Monofocal IOL||£129 per month||£60 per month||£42 per month||£33 per month|
Financing can be an affordable way to receive immediate vision correction while spreading the cost over many months.
Can you get RLE on the NHS?
No. The NHS believes that refractive error, such as long sightedness, short sightedness and presbyopia are adequately corrected with glasses or contact lenses. This means that you will have to pay for a private clinic to perform the operation. This has many benefits as it means that you can choose the right surgeon for you and speak about the type of lens that is most suitable for you.
If you’re in the process of finding a suitable clinic we’re able to help
Refractive Lens Exchange Reviews
Whilst Refractive Lens Exchange surgery is a minor procedure with limited complications, undergoing any form of medical surgery can be unnerving. That’s why it’s important for you to have maximum confidence in the clinic and surgeon carrying out your procedure. Patient reviews are an excellent, trustworthy tool in helping you find the most reputable surgeons that are best suited to you.
Lasik Eyes has 8,000+ patient testimonials for leading lens replacement specialists in the industry. Our featured surgeons are distinguished in their field.
- Mr Allon Barsam: An award winning surgeon and member of the royal institution, Mr David Gartry is known for his work in laser eye surgery, refractive lens exchange and cataract surgery. He has published over 50 scientific papers and is at the forefront of technological innovation in lens and cataract surgery.
- Professor David Gartry: Certified by the General Medical Council (GMC), Mr Barsam has carried out thousands of cataract, laser and refractive procedures. He was the first British Ophthalmologist to carry out refractive lens exchange with a femtosecond laser.
- Mr Dimitri Kazakos: Working for Optical Express, Mr Dimitri Kazakos is a fully trained ophthalmologist who has taken the time to undergo additional specialist training in refractive surgery. He is an active member of some of the main societies for refractive surgery, the most well known in the UK being the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
On top of reading our reviews, you can also take a look at surgeon testimonials on their own websites. You should be able to narrow down the surgeons and evaluate their specialisms against your needs.
Consultations in the most part are free, this gives you a chance to meet the surgeon and gauge which surgeon is right for you.
Refractive lens exchange surgery recovery
The typical recovery period for RLE is several days to two weeks. During this time you may feel mild discomfort, the resulting sensation is that your eyes feel dry or scratchy and like something is in your eye.
Your surgeon will prescribe eye drops to relieve mild pain and redness, these will be factored into the cost of your surgery and you shouldn’t need further pain relief or medication. You will be given full information about how to administer your eye drops when you leave the clinic, this is usually given in the form of a hand out that you can take away with you after surgery.
|Takes: 2 weeks|
|Use: eye drop|
|Clear vision: 6 weeks|
You should see an immediate improvement in vision after surgery and will notice further improvement to the clarity of your eyesight within 4-6 weeks.
Many clinics will schedule a check-up within a week after surgery to make sure that your eyesight is stable. This will be free but if you have travelled for your surgery you may want to factor this into the overall cost.
Refractive lens problems
RLE is a more invasive procedure than LASIK or LASEK but corrects problems that cannot be solved by laser refractive surgery. Like all surgery, there are associated risks but these are rare; fewer than 2% of people who have this type of procedure come away with less than optimal vision.
Some of the complications that patients may encounter are:
- Retinal detachment, especially in extremely shortsighted people
- Dislocated IOL
- Increased eye pressure (ocular hypertension)
- Infection or bleeding inside the eye
- Droopy eyelid (ptosis)
- Glare, halos and blurry vision from multifocal IOLs
The vast majority of patients do not experience any complication and RLE surgery continues to be the most successful procedure to permanently correct vision for those over the age of 40.