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Refractive Lens Exchange

A refractive lens exchange is a safe and effective procedure used for patients who aren’t candidates for LASIK or other refractive procedures. This procedure is usually the better option for refractive surgery compared to LASIK or other procedures to treat presbyopia and high hyperopia. In fact, it may be the only option for refractive surgery.

The procedure involves dissolving the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with a lens implant of the correct power that decreases or eliminates the need for glasses or corrective lenses. It corrects very high degrees of nearsightedness and moderate and high degrees of farsightedness. It can also eliminate reading glasses when used with premium multifocal or accommodating lenses.

This procedure is similar to cataract surgery, except the lens being replaced is clear, while the lens being replaced for cataract surgery is cloudy. Patients who have a refractive lens exchange won’t need cataract surgery in the future.


Like cataract surgery, there are three different types of intraocular lenses to choose from to replace your natural lens. You and your doctor will determine which lens is most suitable based on your vision needs and your eye health.

  • Monofocal Fixed Focus IOL: This type of lens provides clear vision either at a distance, close, or in between, but not all at once. Monofocal fixed focus lenses also include toric lenses that are used to correct astigmatism.
  • Multifocal IOL:This lens will provide clear vision at varying distances.

The Procedure

When undergoing lens replacement surgery, each eye is done separately about a week apart. Each surgery will last for about 15 minutes and will be performed on an outpatient basis. Results are usually seen immediately after the surgery.

First, the surgeon will provide you with numbing anesthetic drops so that you’re comfortable during the procedure. The surgeon uses a powerful magnifying microscope to see inside the eye. The surgeon will then create a tiny incision in the eye. A device known as the emulsifier is inserted and begins to remove the natural lens. After the natural lens has been removed, the intraocular lens is inserted into the eye.

After the procedure, you may or may not need eyeglasses or contact lenses to aid your vision after the surgery depending on what type of intraocular lens is used.

Risks and Side Effects

While refractive lens exchange has been proven safe and is strongly recommended to aid your vision, there are risks to every surgery. Be sure to speak with your doctor about these risks and side effects to fully understand them and what you can do to possibly reduce them.

These risks include the following:

  • Infection inside the eye
  • Increased eye pressure (ocular hypertension)
  • Droopy eyelid (ptosis)
  • Glare, halos, and blurry vision

Refractive lens exchange may come with the most risks, but it also can also provide the best results for clear vision. Schedule your free consultation today!