Refractive lens exchange

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What is refractive lens exchange surgery?

Refractive lens exchange (RLE), also known as lens replacement surgery, is a common procedure which involves replacing the natural lens inside the eye with a synthetic implant called an intraocular lens. It is performed to correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses. This procedure can also improve vision for those suffering from cataracts.

RLE is suitable for people over 50 years of age and with a glasses prescription higher than the normal range for laser eye surgery.

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 prescription, particularly if they are long-sighted.

Refractive lens surgery and cataract surgery are exactly the same operation. When cataract surgery is performed primarily to correct the need for glasses, it is called RLE or lens replacement surgery.

What happens during lens surgery?

During your initial consultation, your specialist consultant eye surgeon will scan and test your eyes to determine your suitability for lens replacement surgery. They will also discuss the procedure’s benefits and potential risks, as well as agreeing on a personalised plan with you. Surgery is usually performed on one eye at a time. If you require surgery on both eyes,
the operations will typically be carried out one week apart.

On the day of the surgery, anaesthetising eye drops and a mild sedative will be administered to ensure the procedure is painless. Your surgeon will soften your existing lens using an ultrasound. This is then emulsified,removed and replaced with an intraocular lens implant (a clear artificial lens), which is held in place by the back membrane of the lens. The latest
multifocal lens implant options are available at Moorfields Private to aid reading vision and provide greater freedom from glasses and contact lenses.

The procedure takes between 30 to 60 minutes and you will be able to go home the same day.

Why choose Moorfields Private?

Moorfields Private has a worldwide reputation for providing the highest quality treatment and care for private patients looking to improve their vision.

All of our surgeons hold accredited consultant positions at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, working at the very top of their profession.

We pride ourselves on offering a service with complete continuity. At each visit, you will see the surgeon of your choice who will supervise every aspect of your care from start to finish.

How much does RLE/lens replacement surgery cost?

Refractive lens exchange surgery at Moorfields Private is more affordable than you might think. The fee for your first consultation will be from £200.

The full cost of any onward treatment will be confirmed once you have agreed your personalised plan with your consultant. As a guide, this will be from £3,500 for per eye, inclusive of your consultant’s professional fees, post-operative consultations and take-home medication.

Who is suitable for corrective lens surgery?

If you are unable to have laser eye surgery, then eye lens replacement surgery can be a good option. The procedure is suitable for patients over 40, as well as those with cataracts, astigmatism, very high prescriptions and glaucoma (as long as the condition is stable). Your surgeon will scan and test your eyes during your initial consultation to assess your
suitability.

RLE/ Lens replacement surgery recovery times and aftercare

Recovery times for this type of surgery vary but typically take between three to four days. It is normal for you to experience blurred vision and glare during this time, along with sensitivity and discomfort in your eye,but this will only last a few days. You will be given antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops to help with this.

You should be able to return to work a few days after the lens replacement operation and will be able to drive after your consultant has confirmed your vision meets the standard in your follow-up appointment. Following recovery, you will benefit from improved focus, reduced glare and clearer distinction between colours.

Who is suitable for corrective lens surgery?

RLE/lens replacement surgery is one of the safest and most common procedures in the world, with more than 3 million surgeries being carried out each year in Europe alone.

As is the case with all operations, there are risks involved. Complications are rare and most can be successfully treated with medication or a follow-up procedure. Your specialist consultant eye surgeon will discuss the risks with you during your initial consultation. However, your chances of having problems are significantly reduced when you put yourself in expert hands and an approved clinical environment.

How successful is lens replacement surgery?

There is a high success rate with lens replacement surgery, with 95% of patients achieving vision of driving standard or better following the procedure.

More information

For more information on RLE/lens replacement surgery, please see our blogs:

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What would you like to ask us?

Refractive lens exchange consultants

A picture of Mr Romesh Angunawela

Mr Romesh Angunawela


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Mark Wilkins

Mr Mark Wilkins


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Sharmina  Khan

Miss Sharmina Khan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor David Gartry

Professor David Gartry


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Bruce Allan

Mr Bruce Allan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Martin Watson

Mr Martin Watson


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Kamran Saha

Mr Kamran Saha


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Rajesh Deshmukh

Mr Rajesh Deshmukh


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Alex Day

Mr Alex Day


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Ms Laura de Benito-Llopis

Ms Laura de Benito-Llopis


Consultant Ophthalmologist

A picture of Miss Linda Ficker

Miss Linda Ficker


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Daniel Gore

Mr Daniel Gore


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Julian Stevens

Mr Julian Stevens


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Alexander Ionides

Mr Alexander Ionides


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Anant Sharma

Mr Anant Sharma


Consultant ophthalmic surgeon (private practice in Bedford only)

A picture of Mr Vincenzo Maurino

Mr Vincenzo Maurino


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

14.08.2020

What to expect when you have treatment for cataracts –  Your questions answered
Written in association with Vincenzo Maurino, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
Read more

10.08.2020

When should I have cataract surgery?
Written in association with Mr Badrul Hussain, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
Read more

20.07.2020

Reasons for choosing Moorfields Private
Written in association with Miss Linda Ficker, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
Read more

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 pre-authorisation number.

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Self pay

You don’t have to be insured to come to Moorfields Private. Many of our patients pay for their own treatment.

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Third party sponsorship

​If a company, employer or other third party agrees to settle your account, they will be required to provide a letter of guarantee along with a deposit.

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