Refractive Lens Exchange

A refractive lens exchange is a surgery that is performed to replace the body’s natural lens with an artificial lens. It is performed in a surgery center typically, and is a same day procedure. Typically, only one eye is performed at a time. The new lens implant can be chosen to fit each person’s needs to give them clear vision at some distances without the need for glasses or corrective lenses.

A refractive lens exchange is basically the same thing as cataract surgery. The only difference is that cataract surgery is performed when the natural lens has become cloudy and is affecting the vision of the eye. Cataract surgery is deemed medically necessary and covered by insurance, whereas refractive lens exchange is deemed an elective medical procedure.

Intraocular Lens Implants (IOLs)

An artificial substitute for the eye’s natural lens is the intraocular lens (IOL). This tiny synthetic lens is made of plastic, silicone, or acrylic. At the time of lens exchange surgery, it is permanently inserted into the eye, and will last indefinitely. Since this lens is placed in about the same place as the natural lens, the restored vision is more natural. Side vision and image size are normal, and there is no discomfort. There is no foreign body to irritate the surface of the eye.

The number of IOL implants available to be used for cataract/lens exchange surgery has increased over the last 35 years. Older lens types and techniques were not uniformly successful. Fortunately, with modern, high-quality IOLs and highly sophisticated surgical techniques, most patients can achieve excellent vision. The most recent IOL advancements are multifocal or pseudo-accommodative lenses that allow patients to see close up and in the distance. As technology improves, implants will allow cataract and refractive lens exchange patients a higher quality of life with less dependency on glasses or additional corrective lenses.

IOL Types

  • Monofocal lens
  • Extended depth of focus lens (vivity)
  • Multifocal lens (panoptix, synergy, symfony)
  • Light Adjustable Lens
  • Toric lens (to adjust for astigmatism, available in all types of corrective IOL’s)