Refractive Lens Exchange in Culpeper

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is also known as clear lens extraction (CLE) or clear lens exchange (CLE). RLE is an eye procedure to remove the natural lens of the eye and replace it with an artificial lens to correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia (inability to read or see up close). Many individuals look at this procedure as alternative to laser vision correction and other vision correction procedures such as corneal implants or inlays. The refractive lens exchange procedure is essentially the same surgical procedure as cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is performed on millions of people every year and has been around for over 40 years.

Am I a candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange?

The procedure is most commonly designed for middle-aged or pre-cataract individuals with a refractive error or focusing issues. Younger people with high refractive errors may also be candidates. The natural lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial lens which can be a mono-focal lens (allowing clearer distance vision), a Toric lens (addressing both distance vision and astigmatism), a multi-focal, an extended depth of focus lens, or an accommodating lens (addressing intermediate, near, and distance vision). Interested individuals should be at least 30 years of age, have a strong desire to be less dependent on glasses or contact lenses and have no significant eye disease.

What are my alternatives to RLE?

Glasses and / or contact lenses have been the most common method of correcting refractive errors. Laser vision correction procedures, such as LASIK and PRK, are alternatives as well. At times, RLE may be the better option for candidates looking for less dependence on their glasses / contacts lenses. Dr. Jani will discuss the best treatment option for you when are in for consultation.

How is the procedure performed?

The procedure is usually performed in an outpatient surgical facility under topical (drops) anesthesia with light IV sedation. The procedure may take up to 15 minutes, is relatively painless, and with quick visual recovery. Most patients can return to driving, reading, and work within a day.

How much does Refractive Lens Exchange Cost?

The procedure usually costs more than LASIK, PRK, or other laser vision correction procedures. Your medical or vision insurance typically does not cover any of the cost. You can help lower your surgical fees for refractive lens exchange by setting up a Health Savings Account (HSA) or contributing to a flexible health benefits program at work such as a FSA. Vista eye specialists also offers financing programs that will allow you to pay for your procedure over time at attractive interest rates or interest-free financing over a limited time period.

IOL Options

Monofocal: Monofocal lenses are a popular IOL choice. These lenses are designed with  one focusing power and are ideal for patients who would like to reduce their dependence on their glasses for their distance vision.

Trifocal: Trifocal  lenses can improve vision up close, intermediate, and at a distance and contain multiple focal areas. The brain will naturally adjust to these areas and will choose the best focusing power at the time. Some patients with trifocal  IOLs may not need eyeglasses at all following RLE.

Extended depth of focus: Extended depth of focus (EDOF) lenses are unique in that they contain one focal point that provides great vision at a distance, as well as significant improvements to mid-range (intermediate) vision. This is especially helpful for tasks that require clear vision at this distance, such as while using a laptop/computer. Glasses could still be necessary for re  ading at closer distances.

Accommodative: This IOL option provides a range of vision by  changing its shape inside the eye. The levels of accommodation can help patients see objects at a different ranges of vision. Like other options, accommodative IOLs can help patients rely less on eyeglasses, but some people may need to use reading/intermediate glasses for closer range vision tasks.

Why Choose Vista Eye

Patients who choose Vista Eye Specialists have access to committed and highly trained experts who share the same goal: to provide excellent, individualized eye care in Fredericksburg and Culpeper. Our team ensures that each patient has the time to share their concerns in a relaxed and friendly setting. Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Jani has consistently delivered excellent results and prioritizes continuing education. Dr. Jani and his team treat a range of eye conditions, including glaucoma and cataracts, and provide a variety of services, such as laser vision correction, that utilize the most advanced technology.


What are the benefits of RLE?

RLE offers a variety of benefits, including:

  • Reduced dependence on eyeglasses and contact lenses.
  • Excellent alternative for patients who may not qualify for LASIK or PRK (laser vision correction)
  • Eliminate risk of cataracts in the future
  • Minimal downtime

What should I expect during RLE recovery?

Vista Eye will ensure you are properly prepared for your recovery ahead of your scheduled surgery by providing you with detailed instructions on how to take care of yourself. This may include prescribed eye drops that promote healing. Additionally, you will need to refrain from certain activities. Dr. Jani will let you know when it is safe to resume driving, working, swimming, and exercising. It can take up to four to six weeks for the eyes to completely heal after RLE, but many patients feel ready to return to their regular activities after a few days.

What is the difference between cataract surgery and RLE?

Cataract surgery and RLE are both lens replacement options that involve replacing the lens of the eye with an artificial lens. However, there are key differences between these surgeries that patients should be aware of:

Cataract surgery treats a naturally clouded lens: With age, the eye’s natural lens may become clouded, leading to difficulties with vision. Cataract surgery replaces the clouded lens with a transparent IOL that allows for clear vision.

Refractive lens exchange treats refractive errors: If you have refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or presbyopia that are preventing you from enjoying crisp vision, but the lens is still clear, RLE can restore your vision. Replacing the lens with an artificial lens in this case can correct near and distance vision, depending on your choice of IOL.

If you would like to learn more about financial options or details about the procedures we offer, schedule a consultation today with our eye experts in Fredericksburg and Culpeper.