Understanding the basics

What is RLE?

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is identical to modern cataract surgery. The operation involves replacing the natural lens with an artificial lens implant. RLE is usually carried out to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses.
Diagnostic testing for RLE surgery at Vision Scotland

How does RLE work?

Within the eye, the cornea and lens work together as a system to ensure incoming light rays are focused onto the surface of the retina. When vision is perfect, the cornea and the lens work optimally to project the image to the back of the eye. If there is a slight imbalance between the lens, the cornea or the length of the eye, then focus will be slightly reduced. As we age, the lens stops working as effectively as it did in our 20’s and 30’s, causing previously good vision to become blurry. This is called presbyopia. During RLE, the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. This artificial lens is custom ordered to match your prescription so that the new lens can return your vision back to 20/20 or better.

Why is lens choice so important?

Almost any level of myopia (short sight) or hyperopia (long sight) can be corrected by RLE. Astigmatism correction is also available.

The most important decision you will have to make before RLE is which type of lens you will choose to replace your eyes natural lens. Monofocal lenses allow you to see clearly in one distance. Most people aim to see well for distance (driving) vision but will require glasses for close up tasks like reading. If you would like to reduce your spectacle reliance further, trifocal lenses may be a good option for you. As their name suggests, trifocal lenses allow you to see well across all three focal distances (far, medium and close up).

A toric lens will correct astigmatism. Monofocal and trifocal lenses can also have toric properties.

Vision Scotland Optometrist Cat talking to a patient
Close up of a human eye

Try our lens simulator

Understanding how lenses will change your vision can be confusing. Try Vision Scotland’s RLE simulator below to see how your vision can be improved.

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