Investigational refractive lens exchange

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Without getting an approval from FDA, some surgeons use Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) on an off-label basis to correct refractive vision problems. Replacing natural lens with an artificial one, RLE is a practical option for both elderly and young patients. This kind of treatment will bring permanent visual benefits.

Cataract surgery and refractive lens exchange

Cataracts and presbyopia occur more often in older women and men. Most cataract patients will choose to receive a cataract surgery only when the condition is advanced or serious enough. In fact, cataract surgery replaces the cloudy lens with a clear, artificial lens. Some cataract patients may choose a refractive lens exchange at the early stage of cataract development, in order to avoid the long-term visual blurriness. These two kinds of surgery are nearly the same when single-vision artificial lens is used.

Multifocal intraocular lenses offer a more advanced solution

With the creation of multifocal intraocular lenses, RLE is more appealing to patients because these artificial lenses can provide clear vision at all distances. In this consideration, RLE is also helpful for presbyopic people. It is actually among the best surgical treatments for this group of people. Others include presbyLASIK, monovision LASIK and monovision Conductive Keratoplasty. In contrast, traditional intraocular lenses can only correct nearsightedness. For presbyopia folks, reading glasses are still needed. The application of multifocal intraocular lens marks a significant improvement in RLE history.

Be aware of surgical risks of RLE

Artificial lenses have proved to provide better uncorrected vision. Refractive lens exchange is the preferred choice for people with severe farsightedness higher than +6.0 diopters. For this group of patients, it is quite hard to receive enough vision aid from prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. A surgical treatment is the best way to get permanent and thorough help. But these patients should also be aware of potential risks such as retinal detachment. Actually the risk of RLE is much similar to that of cataract surgery.

How much a typical RLE costs?

Another factor that may influence the selection of RLE is its expense. REL using different artificial lenses can cost from $2,500 to $4,500 per eye. Using a multifocal intraocular lens will certainly bring more economic burden. What’s worse, the expense of RLE is not covered by Medicare because it is an elective vision correction procedure. In this sense, this surgery is worth most ordinary people’s second thought.