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Refractive lens exchange

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is suitable for patients who are already in the reading glasses age group that wish to gain greater independence from glasses.

  • Lens clarity and flexibility diminish with age, and many older patients who would like their sight corrected actually have the beginnings of a cataract. Replacing the natural lens is often therefore the best option for sight correction, even for patients with a lower spectacle prescription, particularly if they are longsighted. When cataract surgery is performed primarily to correct the need for glasses, it is called RLE.

    RLE and cataract surgery are exactly the same operation. The surgery is normally performed under local anaesthetic, and you can go home straight after surgery. Recovery is quick, aftercare is simple, and there are few restrictions on activity after surgery. You can normally work or fly from the next day. Surgery is normally performed on one eye at a time, with the two operations typically one week apart.

    The latest multifocal lens implant options are available at Moorfields Private to aid reading vision and provide greater spectacle freedom.

  • RLE is very safe overall, but not risk free. In round numbers, approximately 1 in 1000 patients can develop a problem such as infection leading to permanent serious visual loss. 1 in 100 patients may require a revision operation but still get a good final result, and 1 in 10 people require a minor laser procedure at some stage, either to fine-tune the focus or a common one-off procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy, in which a specialized laser is used to cut through the lens capsule if it mists over behind the new lens.

    Modern multifocal intraocular lenses are highly effective in restoring greater spectacle freedom. About four people out of five are completely spectacle free after surgery. But some optical side effects are normal, and some (about one in 20) still find these visual side effects troublesome six months after surgery. Most patients improve, sometimes after corrective laser procedures, but about one person in 100 will not be able to adapt and will require a procedure similar to the original RLE, but with some additional risks, to exchange the multifocal lens implants for a more simple monofocal optical design.

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Refractive lens exchange consultants
A picture of Mr Alexander Ionides

Mr Alexander Ionides


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Mark Wilkins

Mr Mark Wilkins


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Tom Flynn

Mr Tom Flynn


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Romesh Angunawela

Mr Romesh Angunawela


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Bruce Allan

Mr Bruce Allan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Badrul Hussain

Mr Badrul Hussain


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Julian Stevens

Mr Julian Stevens


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Linda Ficker

Miss Linda Ficker


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

No image of consultant provided

Miss Sharmina R Khan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Vincenzo Maurino

Mr Vincenzo Maurino


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor David Gartry

Professor David Gartry


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Daniel Gore

Mr Daniel Gore


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Paying for treatment

Private Medical Insurance

If you are covered by Private Medical Insurance, please verify the details with your insurer prior to arrival and if possible, obtain a preauthorisation number.

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