Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)
Non-surgical methods of correcting vision (glasses and contact lenses) have been a traditional method of correcting vision.
Surgical techniques have been introduced for ophthalmic optical correction. Radial keratotomy (RK) was invented in the 1930s and perfected in the late 1970s. With the development of excimer lasers optical correction was possible with corneal reshaping treatments (Photorefractive Keratectomy or PRK). As this refractive technology advanced laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and its variations (laser epithelial keratomileusis or LASEK and epithelial laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis or epi-LASIK) became available for laser assisted optical corrections.
There are instances the above described optical surgeries may not be the best option. Instead of reshaping the eye a refractive lens exchange (RLE) may be a better option.
RLE is cataract surgery prior to the formation of a cataract. The non-cataract natural lens is replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL). This option not only corrects optically but eliminates the formation of cataract in the future.
RLE can be performed with monofocal (fixed-focus) IOLs or with presbyopia correcting (multiple focus) IOLs.
RLE is an option for patients with dry eye, thin corneas and levels of optical correction that may not be correctable with refractive lasers. It is important to remember after RLE patients never develop cataracts as their natural lens is replaced with an IOL.