Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Near Birmingham, AL

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What Is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Seasoned ophthalmologist Dr. Young Choi is excited to offer refractive lens exchange (RLE), also known as lens replacement surgery, to correct common vision concerns. RLE is a surgical procedure that removes the eye's natural lens and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This process helps improve refractive errors, such as age-related vision loss (presbyopia), farsightedness, and nearsightedness. RLE is a great treatment option for those who do not qualify for laser refractive surgeries, such as LASIK or SMILE. If you want to strengthen your vision and overall ocular health, call Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center today to schedule a private eye assessment and learn more about RLE. We have helped countless men and women in Vestavia Hills, AL and the Greater Birmingham area and look forward to serving you.

What conditions can be treated with RLE?

Refractive lens exchange is highly versatile, offering patients with a variety of conditions the opportunity to achieve clearer vision and freedom from their glasses and contacts. Most often, RLE is performed to address age-related vision changes, known as presbyopia. However, RLE is also considered appropriate for many cases of astigmatism, nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia). RLE is particularly beneficial for those patients who may not be eligible for LASIK or other types of laser vision surgery, as these patients often do qualify for RLE. Because everyone's vision is unique, it is important to schedule an exam and consultation with Dr. Choi to better understand whether RLE may be an appropriate and effective option for you.

what Premium Lens Options are offered?

At Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center, we offer the following artificial lenses:

  • Toric
  • Multifocal
  • Monofocal/Blended Vision Implants
  • Trifocal
  • Trifocal Toric

During your initial visit to our center near Birmingham, AL, Dr. Choi will make a recommendation on which IOL option will best suit your visual needs and personal preferences. We are proud to offer a wide selection of IOLs to meet the diverse needs of our clients. Our overall goal is to provide safe, effective care to those wishing to achieve long-term improvements to their vision. To learn more about these premium IOLs, please visit our refractive cataract surgery page.

What are the benefits of Refractive lens exchange surgery?

Refractive lens exchange surgery is a great option for men or women who are not candidates for standard laser vision correction surgery like LASIK but would still like to strengthen their vision. With RLE, you can get back to living your life without relying on visual aids. Refractive lens exchange also eliminates the possibility of developing cataracts since the natural eye lens is removed. Best of all, these benefits should last a lifetime.

Other substantive advantages of this advanced procedure include:

  • Decreased dependency on glasses and contacts
  • Many lens options available for personalization
  • Little recovery time involved
  • Improved quality of life

who is a CANDIDATE for rle?

Refractive lens exchange is typically recommended for adults with severe cases of nearsightedness or farsightedness who aren't eligible for laser eye surgery. It could also be recommended for patients whose corneal tissue is insufficiently thick for LASIK or similar kinds of laser refractive surgeries. The best way to determine if RLE is right for you is to set up a consultation with Dr. Choi at Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center. During this time, Dr. Choi can assess your ocular health and review your medical history to see if you are a good candidate for RLE. In addition, Dr. Choi can discuss all of your IOL options and determine which one may provide the most improvement to your vision. 

how is rle performed?

At our office near Birmingham, AL, the refractive lens exchange procedure is nearly identical to cataract surgery. The only difference is that patients who undergo RLE do not have cataracts but instead opt to replace the clear, natural lens of their eye with an IOL to improve their vision. This also reduces their dependence on reading glasses or bifocals. In addition, since we offer premium IOLs, most patients are able to achieve spectacle independence. 

RLE is performed on-site at our Class-A facility as an outpatient procedure and generally takes about 10 – 20 minutes to complete. If you plan to get RLE for each eye, you will have to wait about 5 – 10 days between procedures.

Prior to beginning your surgery, we will administer medicated eye drops to numb the eye and often a gentle sedative to ensure optimal comfort. Dr. Choi will make a small incision in the cornea and use specialized technology to easily break up the lens and take it out. Next, he will implant the new artificial lens, which will fuse to the eye on its own without sutures. 

What Should I Expect Following Refractive Lens Exchange?

Once the effects of the numbing eye drops wear off, you may experience slight irritation. This is normal and should dissipate over the next few days. It can be easily alleviated with nonprescription pain relievers. Most patients can experience noticeable improvements in just a few days.

Over the course of the initial 4 – 12 weeks, you might experience episodes of blurry vision, glare or halos, sensitivity to bright light, inflammation, and increased eye pressure. These are considered typical, short-term symptoms of the recovery period. Dr. Choi will also schedule a series of follow-up exams over the next few weeks after your surgery to keep track of your healing progress.

What Does Refractive Lens Exchange Cost?

Refractive lens exchange is considered an elective procedure and is generally not covered by insurance. It is often more expensive than other laser vision correction surgeries, but we can review your treatment plan and estimate your costs during your initial consultation. Our office accepts many payment forms, including CareCredit, and offers flexible payment plans to help make your treatment more affordable.

Refractive Lens Exchange FAQs

Is refractive lens exchange safe?
Yes, refractive lens exchange is a safe procedure — just as safe as cataract surgery. Many studies have proven the safety and effectiveness of RLE surgery for patients across the spectrum.

Does insurance cover refractive lens exchange?
Refractive lens exchange is considered an elective procedure, therefore it usually isn’t covered by insurance plans.

Does refractive lens exchange hurt?
Dr. Choi will use anesthetic drops prior to the procedure, so typically most patients feel no pain or discomfort.

Is refractive lens exchange permanent?
Yes, artificial intraocular lenses are a permanent replacement for your eyes’ natural lenses and will last the rest of your life.

Will I still need to wear glasses after refractive lens exchange?
Whether or not you will still need to wear glasses depends on the type of lenses you get. For example, monofocal lenses are designed for distance, so you would still need to wear glasses for reading or close work.

What are the risks associated with refractive lens exchange?
Some potential risks include infection, retinal detachment, and issues with night vision. However, complications are relatively rare and can often be managed when detected early. Always discuss the risks and benefits with your provider at Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center to make an informed decision.

Will I have blurry vision after refractive lens exchange?
After refractive lens exchange, blurry vision is possible initially but typically improves as your eyes adjust to the new lens.

Will I need someone to drive me home after RLE?

After refractive lens exchange, your vision will be blurry, and you may also still feel the effects of any sedation or anesthesia that may be been used during the procedure. For these reasons, patients are required to have someone to drive them home from their surgery.

How soon will I notice clearer vision after RLE?

Patients should keep in mind that the recovery process after RLE can vary from person to person and that fluctuations in your vision during RLE recovery can be normal. For some patients, there may be a noticeable improvement in their vision within just a few days after RLE, but their postoperative blurriness may return thereafter. On average, patients begin to notice more sustained improvements after a few weeks, with full recovery taking several weeks to several months in some cases.

Strengthen your vision

If you live in Birmingham or Vestavia Hills, AL and are tired of wearing glasses or bifocals to correct your vision, we invite you to call Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center. Dr. Choi can sit down with you to discuss all the benefits of refractive lens exchange (RLE) and determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. Significantly decrease your dependence on glasses and the likelihood of developing cataracts with RLE. Reach out to our practice to set up your consultation.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.