Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) near Chicago, IL

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What Is Refractive Lens Exchange?

The ocular specialists at Kirk Eye Center are pleased to perform RLE (refractive lens exchange) for Chicago area patients. RLE is technically the same thing as cataract surgery, though the patient doesn't have cataracts. With RLE, the existing lens is replaced with a customized IOL (intraocular lens) to correct or significantly reduce certain kinds of refractive issues and enable crisp vision at multiple distances. RLE is often an excellent treatment method for individuals who live with abnormally severe degrees of myopia or hyperopia and who may not be eligible for more common refractive vision surgeries. Moreover, the artificial lens cannot develop cataracts so RLE alleviates that concern. Contact Kirk Eye Center in River Forest or Gurnee, IL to arrange your eye assessment.


Generally, RLE is recommended for those with profound levels of myopia or hyperopia that can't be treated with laser refractive procedures. Refractive lens exchange could also be used for patients whose corneal tissue is not thick enough for LASIK or alternative popular types of laser eye surgery. Once you've had your initial visit to Kirk Eye Center, we will establish the best kind of IOLs for your specific refractive error needs. The premium IOLs are then individually crafted.

What Is RLE Surgery Like?

Kirk Eye Center performs refractive lens exchange as an outpatient surgery that usually lasts about 15 minutes; however, if you plan to get new lenses for each eye, you should wait at least seven days between procedures. On the day of your surgery, we will administer special eye drops to numb the eyes and sometimes a soothing anesthetic. Dr. Kirk will create an exceptionally tiny incision in the corneal tissue and use laser or ultrasound technology to delicately disintegrate the patient's existing lens and remove it. Then, he will implant the premium lens in its place using the same small incision, which will heal quickly on its own.

What to Expect with RLE

When the eye drops fade away, you could notice some slight irritation, but this will only linger about 48 hours. Most people who opt for RLE begin to enjoy their improved vision in only 1 – 4 days, and many of them will greatly lessen or put an end to their reliance on corrective eyewear. Over the course of the initial 4 – 12 weeks, you may experience some occasional blurry vision, glare, and dryness. We will plan ongoing, very important follow-up visits in the weeks after your RLE surgery to watch your recovery progress.

Long-Term Clear Vision

Refractive lens exchange at Kirk Eye Center is an exciting elective surgery that could significantly improve not just your eyesight but your general outlook on life. For adults who aren't candidates for LASIK or PRK, RLE can reduce or eliminate the dependence on glasses, as well as the likelihood of developing cataracts. Contact our River Forest or Gurnee, IL location to schedule your evaluation.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.