Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Saskatoon, SK

For individuals with severe near-sightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism who are not candidates for corneal-based refractive surgery (LASIK/PRK) – Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is an effective alternative.

Unlike laser corrective surgeries, which alter the shape of the cornea, a refractive lens exchange changes the focusing power of the lens within the eye. For this procedure, the eye's natural lens is removed and replaced by a lens implant which has been selected to provide clear focusing ability. The lens implant remains within the eye, without needing any further care after surgery. It provides a wide range of focusing freedom, but since it is a fixed focus lens.

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Dr. Conlon will examine your eyes prior to treatment and review a number of physical parameters unique to your eyes, to determine whether or not you are a candidate for refractive laser surgery. The treatment recommendations are highly individualized and are based on the characteristics of your eyes. Dr. Conlon will recommend a specific treatment plan that best meets your needs, depending on the unique physical characteristics of your eyes, and your specific visual needs.

RLE is generally recommended in individuals 45 years of age and older. Similar to cataract surgery, one's natural lens is removed from the eye and it is replaced with an intraocular lens that corrects for the refractive error of the eye (hyperopia, myopia, or astigmatism).


IOLs are artificial lenses surgically implanted in the eye. These lenses help your eye regain its focusing and refractive ability. Refractive lensectomy can be used to correct moderate to high degrees of myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). In many cases, it is especially useful in treating presbyopia, the inability to focus at near distances with age.

The most common type of implantable lens is the monofocal or fixed-focus lens. It helps you attain clearer vision at one distance. Note that eyeglasses or contact lenses are still required to see clearly at all ranges of distance.

Another type of IOL is the multifocal IOL. The multifocal IOL has several rings of different powers built into the lens. The part of the ring you look through will determine if you can see clearly at far, near, or intermediate distances.

Once implanted the multifocal IOLs allow you to focus on near or distant objects. You will probably have to take an antibiotic and steroid eyedrop for several days after the procedure, and you will need to wear an eye shield at night for one week to protect the eye.

The Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) takes approximately 15-20 minutes and is performed in the surgical suite, at the Conlon Eye Institute. Similar to cataract surgery, Dr. Conlon will place the implant into the eye through a small incision, which generally does not require stitches to close.

Some advantages of refractive lensectomy are that unlike other forms of refractive surgery, refractive lensectomy can be used to treat people with dry eye, thin corneas, or high refractive error. In addition, if you have refractive lensectomy, you will never develop cataracts, as the natural lens is removed.

Risks associated with implanting IOLs include overcorrection or under-correction, infection, increased"floaters" or retinal detachment, dislocation of the implant, halos and glare, dry eye, decreased contrast sensitivity, clouding of a membrane behind the IOL (this requires a quick laser procedure to remove it), and loss of vision.

You should consult with Dr. Conlon to determine if refractive lens exchange is the best treatment for your specific condition and vision needs. If you are considering a refractive exchange, you should also discuss which IOL might be best suited for you.

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