Do you have to hold menus away from your face while ordering at restaurants? Is the fine print of your favorite newspaper too small to see unless you use reading glasses?

If you are tired of relying on glasses to accomplish activities or tasks that require clear sight up close, a procedure like refractive lens exchange (RLE) can help you finally be glasses-free! If the first vision correction procedure that comes to mind is LASIK, you’re not alone.

It is, after all, the most popular vision correction procedure. LASIK can correct refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. However, if you are of a certain age and only need glasses for reading, LASIK might not be the best choice for you.

One of the things that LASIK cannot correct is an age-related eye condition called presbyopia. Presbyopia occurs when the natural lens in your eye loses its flexibility. Due to this, it becomes far more challenging to see things up close unless you’re using reading glasses to see.

You may find that reading a menu, looking at a newspaper, using your phone to text, or putting on makeup in the morning is a lot more difficult without reading glasses when you have presbyopia. If you have been diagnosed with presbyopia, your eye doctor may suggest a vision correction procedure like refractive lens exchange.

Keep reading to find out why RLE could be the answer if you’re tired of reading glasses!

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Refractive lens exchange is a vision correction procedure that removes the natural lens of the eye and replaces it with an intraocular lens (IOL). Along with presbyopia, refractive lens exchange can also correct refractive errors, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Depending on the IOL you and your surgeon at Memorial Eye Institute choose, including multifocal lenses. These multifocal IOLs can correct not only your ability to see up close but also your ability to see at a distance. With a multifocal IOL, you may be able to eliminate your need for visual aids like reading glasses completely.

Many IOLs can also correct vision affected by astigmatism if they come in a toric model. Refractive lens exchange can be a good option for patients looking to correct their vision but are unsuitable for other procedures, like LASIK or PRK.

Both of these procedures correct refractive errors by reshaping the cornea. Your surgeon at Memorial Eye Institute may recommend refractive lens exchange if you’re extremely nearsighted or farsighted, or due to corneal abnormalities.

RLE is often recommended for patients over 40, as this is typically when presbyopia begins. Getting LASIK or PRK at this age will not treat presbyopia, making refractive lens exchange a better choice for these patients.

How Does Refractive Lens Exchange Differ from Other Vision-Correcting Options?

The most significant difference between refractive lens exchange and other vision-correcting options is how it corrects vision. While the end goal, clear vision, is the same for all of these procedures, how it is achieved is very different. While both LASIK and PRK use lasers to access and reshape the cornea, during refractive lens exchange, the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an IOL.

This artificial lens is permanently implanted in the eye. It can improve vision for a lifetime, ensuring you see clearly. Refractive lens exchange is virtually the same as cataract surgery, which restores your ability to see clearly by removing your natural lens and cataracts and replacing the natural lens with an IOL.

You do not need to have cataracts to undergo RLE. However, cataract surgery is a medically necessary procedure and is the only way to treat cataracts and restore your ability to see clearly.

Am I a Good Candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange?

Refractive lens exchange may be a suitable procedure for you if:

  • You’re at least 40 years old
  • Your prescription has been stable and remained unchanged for a year or more
  • You have healthy eyes with no history of other eye conditions
  • You have realistic expectations about what refractive lens exchange could accomplish

RLE might not be suitable for you if you have an eye condition that affects your corneas, you suffer from an eye condition like age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, or are at high risk for retinal detachment.

Learn More About Refractive Lens Exchange

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What are the Benefits of Refractive Lens Exchange?

While the most significant benefit of refractive lens exchange is clear vision while reducing your dependence on visual aids, there are other benefits worth considering as well. These include:

Preventative Vision Correction

Presbyopia is often a progressive eye condition that requires a stronger prescription over time to help you see clearly when looking at things up close. Correcting presbyopia with refractive lens exchange means you can look forward to being able to see clearly for years to come while ensuring your vision will not worsen as you get older.

Cataract Prevention

When you have presbyopia, not only can you look forward to correcting presbyopia, but you can also rest easy knowing you’re preventing cataracts. Replacing the natural lens of your eye with a high-quality IOL prevents cataracts from ever compromising your clear vision.

Predictable Outcomes

Eye surgeons have successfully used refractive lens exchange for many years to correct refractive errors, including presbyopia. Most patients who have refractive lens exchange report high satisfaction following the procedure.

Highly Safe

When performed by an experienced eye surgeon, RLE is a safe and effective outpatient procedure. Recovery times are short, and vision noticeably improves within a few days.


The one-time cost of refractive lens exchange is usually much less than you’d pay annually for visual aids. Because the procedure prevents cataracts, you’ll never have to pay for any out-of-pocket expenses related to cataract surgery.

Long-Lasting Clear Vision

The artificial lens used to replace your natural lens is made of high-quality, durable material designed to last over time without requiring future maintenance or replacement. You can make your dreams of saying goodbye to reading glasses a reality with refractive lens exchange.

The procedure offers many benefits when compared to other vision-correction options. But because it has fewer restrictions and more options for clear vision at multiple distances, you can worry less and enjoy better vision for the rest of your life!

Find out more about refractive lens exchange by requesting an appointment at Memorial Eye Institute in Harrisburg and Camp Hill, PA, today! Stop letting impaired vision rule your life!