So you want to get rid of reading glasses forever? that’s the topic of
today’s article. I am here to bring you the latest information on eye health
and medicine. The worsening of reading vision as we age is called

With the recent FDA approval of the vuity eye drop which is a temporary
for presbyopia. A lot of my patients have been asking me about
ways to eliminate reading glasses permanently.

Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery (RLE)

In today’s article, I will discuss a surgical option that can treat
presbyopia permanently
. This type of presbyopia eye surgery is known as
refractive lens exchange surgery or RLE.


I will go over how RLE works? Who are candidates for RLE surgery? What to
expect before and on the day of refractive lens exchange surgery? what is
the recovery process and what are the risks of this type of surgery? Make
sure you read the entire article to learn about both the benefits and risks
of RLE surgery?

How Does Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery Work?

So how does RLE surgery work? RLE surgery corrects presbyopia by replacing
the stiff and aging natural lens in our eyes with an advanced intraocular
lens implant or IOL.

When we are young we are able to see objects at different distances due to
the flexibility of our natural lens. Our natural lens becomes more curved
when the eye muscles contract called “Ciliary body muscles” and our eyes
become more nearsighted.

This enables us to see objects that are close to us clearly. In our early
40s, our lenses gradually lose their flexibility and no longer change shape
as our eye muscles contract causing presbyopia. Although there is no
currently available treatment to restore the elasticity of our natural

Refractive lens exchange surgery treats presbyopia by removing the rigid
and replacing it with an advanced IOL to give us a clearer range of
vision including distance, intermediate, and near vision.

Who is a Good Candidate for RLE Surgery?

So how do you know if you are a good candidate for RLE surgery? In general,
people who are over the age of 40 and have developed significant presbyopia
or difficulty reading, may want to be evaluated by an eye surgeon for RLE

In order to be a candidate for RLE surgery, you need to have a healthy eye,
free of significant eye diseases. For example, people who have glaucoma,
macular degeneration, significant diabetic eye disease, a history of retinal
detachment, eye inflammation, or any significant disease of the cornea, are
not good candidates for RLE surgery.

People who are extremely nearsighted or farsighted with an abnormal length
of the eye are also typically not good candidates for RLE surgery.

For example, in people who are extremely nearsighted with a glasses
prescription over minus 15 diopters, the length of the eyeball is extremely
long and this increases the risk of developing retinal detachment including
RLE surgery.

What to Expect before RLE Surgery?

Retinal detachment with any kind of intraocular surgery including RLE
surgery. So what can you expect during your evaluation for RLE?

In order to determine if you are a candidate for RLE surgery, you will need
to have a full eye exam by your eye surgeon and complete extensive testing
and measurements of your eyes.

Typically a full RLE surgery evaluation will involve measuring the
curvature and length of the eye, a full eye exam with pupil dilation,
examining the health of the optic nerve and retina inside of the eye. Also,
the strength of the glasses prescription for both distance and near vision
is recorded during the exam.

After the examination and testing, if you are a candidate for RLE surgery,
your eye surgeon and you will pick the best advanced intraocular lens
for your eyes. There are two main types of advanced IOLs that are
currently available in the US for presbyopia correction.
  • Multifocal IOL (MFIOL)
  • Extended depth of focus (EDOF) IOL
The choice of IOL for each candidate is made based on that individual’s
functional vision needs
as well as any vision requirements for their
profession and lifestyle.

What to expect on surgery day and vision recovery after surgery?

What should you expect on the day of RLE surgery and how do you care for
your eyes after surgery?

RLE surgery is typically done for both eyes either separately or
occasionally at the same. It is an outpatient procedure that takes about 15
minutes for each eye and you will go home the same day.

During the surgery, patients are typically not under general anesthesia.
They will receive IV or local sedatives to stay conscious but in a very
relaxed state. The surgery itself is painless and patients will be using
different types of eye drops with a tapered schedule in the weeks of the
following surgery.

Strenuous activities should be avoided during the first week after surgery.
In general, your vision will be blurry on the day of surgery. With a
successful RLE surgery, your vision should be much clearer the day after
surgery and you should be able to resume most of your vision tasks the day
after surgery such as:
  • Watching television
  • Driving
  • Reading or light reading
You may feel very mild irritation or foreign body sensation in your eyes
and may have some light sensitivity for about a week after surgery.

The majority of vision recovery occurs during the first week after
surgery. But it is not unusual for you to experience small fluctuations in
your vision during the first month after surgery.

Although mild irritation and vision fluctuation are expected shortly
after surgery, significant eye pain and sudden significant vision change
are unusual and can be signs of potentially serious complications. If you
experience those or any other concerning symptoms, you should contact your
eye surgeon right away.

For RLE patients, their vision stabilizes about one month after surgery.
However, a small percentage of patients may take a few months to fully
recover their vision after RLE surgery. Usually, patients will be following
up with their eye surgeon or eye doctor a few times during the postoperative

The surgical steps of RLE surgery are basically the same as cataract
surgery, and it can be done with a conventional manual method or with
assistance from a femtosecond laser.

What are the Risks of Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Surgery?

Please remember, there are risks with any surgery including RLE surgery.
With RLE surgery there is a small chance of infection, bleeding, increased
eye pressure, glares at night, and potentially other risks that you should
discuss with your eye surgeon.

Most of the complications from RLE surgery are treatable with additional
medications or procedures. Although it is rare, the risk of vision loss is
not zero with RLE surgery or any intraocular surgery.

The goal of RLE surgery is to reduce the need for reading glasses and to
help you eliminate reading glasses for most of your vision needs. Most RLE
patients do not need reading glasses after surgery.

However, people who spend a lot of time doing prolonged close-up work. for
example, threading needles or reading very small print up close for hours at
a time may still want to wear reading glasses for those tasks in order to
reduce eye strain.

Therefore it is important for you to have an individualized exam and
consultation with your eye surgeon to determine if RLE surgery is the right
treatment for you. 
Categories: eyes surgery

Ruman Amjad

Hello, I am Dr. Ruman Amjad, an Ophthalmologist specializing in the field of eye care, particularly focused on helping individuals with swollen eyelids. I am thrilled to welcome you to, a comprehensive resource dedicated to providing accurate and reliable information on eyelid inflammation.


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