Refractive lens exchange or clear lens extraction is a procedure involving the removal of the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens of appropriate power that has been calculated to correct for any refractive errors. It is essentially the same as the modern cataract extraction however the natural lens is clear and not cloudy. With classic cataract procedure the natural lens is cloudy due to age-related changes causing progressive blurring of vision. Clear lens extraction has a low complication rate but has slightly more risks than other refractive procedures because it is an intraocular surgery.
Refractive Lens Exchange is particularly effective for people over the age of 50 years of age with myopia, hypemetropia, astigmatism and presbyopia. Monovision or multifocal lenses can be inserted to correct for presbyopia as well. (add pic from old brochure)
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM RLE PROCEDURE?
Surgery is usually done as an outpatient basis. You may be asked to skip breakfast, depending on the time of your surgery. Upon arrival for surgery, you will be given eye drops, and perhaps medications to help you relax. You will also be given an anaesthetic. The skin around your eye will be thoroughly cleansed, and sterile coverings will be placed around your head. When the operation is over, the surgeon will usually place a shield over your eye. After a short stay in the outpatient recovery area, you will be ready to go home. You should plan to have someone else drive you home. Plan to be at the surgery centre for 2.5-3 hours. The actual procedure takes 20-30mins.
HOW IS THE SURGERY PERFORMED?
The Refractive Lens Exchange procedure is performed with the same surgical technique as the cataract surgery which is the most common surgery performed inAustralia. Under an operating microscope a small incision is made into the eye. Microsurgical instruments are used to fragment and suction the clear lens from the eye leaving the back membrane of the lens (called the posterior capsule) in place. This process is called phacoemulsification. A plastic intraocular lens (with the power of your prescription) is then implanted to replace the natural lens that was removed. The incision is then closed without the need for stitches.
AFTER LENS SURGERY
Following the procedure you will need to:
- Use the eye drops as prescribed;
- Be careful not to rub or press on your eye;
- Use over-the-counter pain medicine if necessary;
- Avoid very strenuous activities until the eye has healed;
- Continue normal daily activities and moderate exercise;
- Ask your doctor when you can begin driving;
- Wear eyeglasses or shield as advised by your doctor.
- Generally return to work 2 days after surgery.
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