Refractive Lens Exchange
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) or Clear Lens Extraction (CLE) is an emerging procedure for the treatment of very high amounts of myopia (nearsightedness). This technique involves removing the crystalline lens from inside the eye.
For some patients, clear lens extraction may become a better option than LASIK. However, there is an increased risk of retinal detachment and other serious complications with RLE because it is an internal eye procedure (compared to LASIK, which affects only the cornea).
Patients who have RLE also lose all ability to change focus after the procedure, since the natural focusing mechanism is removed. Regardless of the patient’s age, reading glasses are required after RLE surgery to see objects up close.
Because of these limitations, RLE is unlikely to become a mainstream vision correction procedure. (Currently, Refractive Lens Exchange accounts for less than 1% of all vision correction surgeries performed in the U.S.) Still, for extremely nearsighted individuals who cannot tolerate wearing contact lenses, RLE may be a viable option.