Clear Lens Extraction or Refractive Lens Exchange - CLE/RLE eye surgery

Clear Lens Extraction, also known as Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is a surgical procedure which is an alternative to laser eye surgery. It can be used to treat the following:

  • Cataracts: this involves the removal of the diseased or cloudy lens of the eye before replacing this with a synthetic alternative – an Intra-Ocular Lens (IOL)*.
  • Refractive errors: this treatment can correct severe levels of short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism.

This treatment falls into the category of Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL). These lenses are as the name says: they are a fixed or permanent type of contact lens which can correct severe refractive errors.

*If you are considering having this procedure for the treatment of cataracts then visit our section ‘Cataract Extraction & IOL’. This is a comprehensive yet easy to understand guide to cataract surgery.

What is ‘CLE/RLE?’

This stands for Clear Lens Extraction or Refractive Lens Exchange and refers to a form of eye surgery undertaken to treat cataracts or correct a refractive error such as short-sightedness.

There are two ways of performing this surgery:

  • The removal of the cataract (cloudy lens) followed by the insertion of a plastic IOL.
  • The insertion of a plastic IOL over the existing lens to improve vision.

The first method is discussed in more detail in our cataract extraction section.

The second method involves the insertion of either a single or multi-focal lens to improve defective vision. It is especially useful for patients with a severe level of myopia, hypermyopia or astigmatism.

The bonus with this is no need for glasses or ordinary contact lenses. This even applies to reading glasses.

There are two types of lenses used in CLE/RLE:

  • single vision or ‘monofocal’ lens
  • accommodating or ‘multifocal’ lens

The single vision is as the name says: it is a fixed focus type of lens which can correct a single refractive error. So, if you are
short-sighted then you will find that you are able to see objects at a distance but, you will still require glasses/contact lenses for close up work.

If you choose the multifocal lens then this will treat both types of error (short and long sight). This means that you will be able to see objects both near to and at a distance. And, if you are aged 40 and above, no more reading glasses!

If you opt for the multi-focal lenses then you will find that there are 3 types for you to choose from. These are:

  1. ReSTOR
  2. CrystaLens
  3. ReZoom

The surgeon will discuss your preferences with you. Your age, state of health, lifestyle and, yes, your budget will be taken into account.

CLE/RLE Eye Surgery Guide:

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