Clear (Refractive) Lens Exchange / PRELEX
Clear lens exchange, also called Refractive lens exchange (PRELEX), Refractive lens exchange (RLEX), lens replacement surgery or clear lens extraction, may be a better option than LASIK, or PRK for some people with presbyopia and high degrees of hyperopia (farsightedness).
A clear (refractive) lens exchange replaces the clear natural lens of your eye with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to correct your prescription, also referred to refractive error, in order to reach sharper focus, thus reducing your need for reading glasses or bifocals.
Are you a Clear Lens Exchange Candidate?
Clear (refractive) lens exchange is typically recommended for individuals experiencing presbyopia or extreme farsightedness (hyperopia), for whom LASIK or PRK are generally not suitable. If you have both presbyopia and moderate to severe hyperopia, a clear (refractive) lens exchange may be the only viable option for clear vision and nominal reliance on glasses following your refractive surgery.
Clear (refractive) lens exchange surgery also can correct myopia (nearsightedness), but generally it is not recommended when LASIK or PRK are available as suitable options.
Clear Lens Exchange – Is it cataract surgery?
Not exactly. The procedure for refractive lens exchange is virtually identical to cataract surgery, except for the fact that the lens being replaced remains clear, rather than a cloudy lens that results due to cataract formation.
As in cataract surgery, three types of IOLs are available to replace your natural lens, depending on your vision needs and the health of your eyes. They are:
- Monofocal (fixed-focus) IOLs: Monofocal lenses provide clear vision at distance, intermediate or near ranges — but not all three at once.
- Multifocal IOLs: A multifocal lens provides clear vision at multiple distances.
- Accommodating IOLs: An accommodating IOL is a type of monofocal lens that enables focus at multiple distances.
With intraocular lenses, there is no "one size fits all," so your eye surgeon will recommend an IOL that is most suitable for your individual needs.
Refractive Lens Exchange: Before, During & After the Procedure
A clear (refractive) lens exchange takes approximately 10-15 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis in our onsite surgical facility, the Surgical Center at South Jersey Eye Physicians. Each eye is done separately, usually one to two weeks apart. Numbing anesthetic drops are used during a clear lens exchange, so there is typically no discomfort. Most people report immediate vision improvement after surgery.
The final outcome of your clear (refractive) lens exchange may take several weeks, and you may notice some vision disturbances such as blurry vision, halos and glare, or a " scratchy" sensation early on as your eyes heal. You should be able to return to work and resume driving within a few days following your surgery, dependent on the instructions from your eye surgeon.
In case you were wondering, you won't feel the IOL in your eye. Additionally, since the IOL is situated inside your eye, rather than on the surface like a contact lens, it is not noticeable to people looking at you casually nor visible to the naked eye.
The clear lens exchange provides a permanent replacement for your natural lens and is designed to last the remainder of your life. Since IOLs are not affected by age-related changes, there is a significantly reduced risk of regression, a loss of corrective effect or deterioration of vision, over time.
Clear lens replacement surgery is more invasive than laser-based refractive surgery such as LASIK and PRK and comes with slightly more risk. However, sight-threatening complications are rare, and most complications can be treated successfully with medication or additional procedures. The higher risks associated with a clear lens exchange may be an acceptable trade-off if you have a severe refractive error and a strong desire to be less dependent on eyeglasses, contact lenses and/or reading glasses.
How to Get More Information
If you think you are a potential clear lens exchange candidate, or would like to be evaluated to see if you are, schedule an appointment online or call us today at 1-800-380-0111 to schedule your FREE consultation.