What is the Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)?

Refractive lens exchange, or RLE, can sometimes be the best option for a patient who is not a candidate for one of our other refractive procedures. RLE replaces the eye’s clear natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens to correct vision and achieve sharper focus while reducing the need for reading glasses or bifocals.


Why RLE?

RLE is typically for patients with presbyopia or extreme farsightedness that might not be ideal candidates for LASIK or PRK. RLE may be the most viable option for patients with both presbyopia and moderate to severe hyperopia.

RLE is not for severe farsighted patients – it is for mild to moderate farsighted and nearsighted patients with presbyopia. It can be an alternative for LASIK.


A Doctor You Can Trust

More than anything, we are proud of our team and the relationships that we maintain with all of our patients. Our compassionate, innovative, and experienced team will always be there for you.

We know having an eye care procedure can be a stressful time in your life. Our physicians are here for you every step of the way to answer your questions, make sure you have a relaxing visit, and provide you with the best eye care possible.

The field of eye care is rapidly evolving and our ophthalmologists remain at the cutting edge. ELITE LASIK & Cataract is always at the forefront of the new procedures, and we offer a full scope of advanced technology, diagnostic testing, and treatment.

Refractive Lens Exchange Versus

Refractive lens exchange versus LASIK

RLE vs Other Procedures

Although LASIK and PRK are the more popular procedures, refractive lens exchange is a good alternative for many people struggling with refractive errors and dependence on visual aids. In fact, refractive lens exchange may be the better option in many cases because it can correct nearly any degree of farsightedness (instead of only mildly to moderately severe cases) and presbyopia, which LASIK and PRK do not address. Another advantage of RLE is that it eliminates the need for cataract surgery later in life as the artificial lens cannot develop cataracts.

Refractive lens exchange versus LASIK
Best for refractive lens exchange

Who It’s Best For

RLE is typically for patients with presbyopia or extreme farsightedness that might not be ideal candidates for LASIK or PRK. RLE may be the most viable option for patients with both presbyopia and moderate to severe hyperopia. The procedure for RLE is virtually identical to cataract surgery.


Are You a Candidate for RLE?
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Have Questions About Your Vision? We would like to invite you to a free virtual consultation where all of your questions will be answered.


What Happens During the Procedure?

RLE is performed on an outpatient basis. Usually, both eyes are treated separately. The procedure itself is nearly identical to cataract surgery, except that RLE replaces a clear lens and cataract surgery replaces a cloudy lens. The eyes are completely numbed to prevent any discomfort during the surgery. A small incision is created in the corner of the eye to access the capsule that holds the lens. An opening is made in the capsule and the lens is carefully removed. Then, an intraocular lens implant (IOL) of the patient’s choosing is carefully positioned in the same capsule that held the natural lens.

What Is the Recovery Like?

Many people experience instant vision improvement after surgery and can resume work as soon as the day after surgery. Patients can expect to resume the rest of their everyday activities, including exercise, within about a week of surgery. They should be careful not to touch their eyes or get sweat, dust or smoke in their eyes for a month after surgery as the eyes heal.

How to Prepare for Your Procedure

Fast After Midnight

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure. Morning medication can be taken with a small sip of water.

Minimize Your Morning Routine

Wash your face well with soap and water the morning of your procedure but do not wear any makeup, hair products, perfume, aftershave or lotion on the day of your procedure.

Bring a Friend

You’ll need to arrange for someone to bring you in for the procedure and pick you up once the procedure is completed. Your guest is more than welcome to accompany you through your procedure. If they wish, they may watch your procedure live from our “friends and family viewing area.” If your guest chooses not to view the procedure, they may wait in our comfortable lounge or simply return to the center one hour after your arrival time.

Review the Informed Consent Document

Take the time to read the Informed Consent document prior to the day of your procedure. Please do not sign the document until you are with your surgeon on the day of your procedure. Additionally, if you happen to develop a cold sore the week of your surgery, please call us to let us know. For your safety, it may be best to reschedule your procedure if you have a cold sore.

What to Expect Day
of Procedure

Arrive on Time

Plan to arrive at the surgery center two hours before your scheduled time. An Elite LASIK & Cataract Representative will be there to assist you. Do not wear watches or jewelry on your procedure day.

Meet the Surgeon

Meet with Dr. Zeh to review your procedure and the plans for your post-operative care as well as sign consent forms.

Prepare for the Procedure

Receive relaxation medication to reduce your anxiety. Please let our doctors and staff know if you would prefer not to take the relaxation medication.

The Procedure

The procedure takes about 30 minutes per eye. Only numbing eye drops are used as an anesthetic. Our team will make sure you are comfortable and will talk you through the entire process.

After the Procedure

After the procedure, you will be in a recovery room for about 30 minutes. Most patients will be discharged 30 minutes after their procedure. You MUST have someone drive you home after the procedure.

Total office time is approximately 2.5-3 hours.

RLE Cost

How Much Does RLE Cost?

RLE Candidate

Am I a Candidate For RLE?

RLE Cost

How Much Does RLE Cost?

RLE Candidate

Am I a Candidate For RLE?


How do I know if I’m a candidate for refractive lens exchange?

The best way to determine whether you are a candidate for refractive lens exchange is to meet with a qualified eye surgeon for a one-on-one consultation. In general, you might be a good candidate if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia.
  • Do not qualify for LASIK because of the degree of your refractive error.
  • Want to reduce or eliminate your dependence on glasses or contacts after surgery.
What type of artificial lenses (IOLs) are used?
Monofocal IOLs restore vision at a single distance, requiring patients to wear glasses to see at other distances. Multifocal or accommodating IOLs restore vision at multiple distances to reduce or eliminate the need to wear glasses. And toric lenses are designed to help correct astigmatism caused by an irregularly shaped cornea.
Will I feel the IOL in my eye?
No, you will not be able to see or feel the IOL inside your eye.
How long will the IOL last?
IOLs are designed to last permanently.
Will I need eyeglasses or contact lenses after refractive lens exchange?
It depends on the type of IOL that you and your surgeon select. If you have a multifocal or accommodating IOL, it is not likely that you will need visual aids.
Is refractive lens exchange covered by insurance?
Typically the procedure is not covered by insurance since it is considered elective.

What Patients Have to Say…

Katelynn Kiehl
Katelynn Kiehl
December 21, 2022.
I rarely leave reviews but I felt I absolutely had to here to help others who are researching their best option for lasik or any of their corrective surgeries. Seriously look no further!! The staff here are beyond friendly, accommodating, empathetic, knowledgeable, helpful, and you can just tell they’re not just following some set of company guidelines that tell them to be nice to clients, they genuinely care about you. I went in for my free consultation at the end of July and was told while I didn’t qualify for lasik (based on shape of my cornea I think?) I did qualify for PRK and the doctor thoroughly explained that procedure and what it would entail from surgery day all the way through recovery and beyond. I was scheduled for PRK on Aug 5th and from the moment I walked in til the moment I left on surgery day, I was extremely well taken care of and I COULD SEE!! For the first time in 25 years I could see without glasses. The doctors told me what each day of recovery would look like and they were spot on!! I experienced no pain, but some mild irritation on recovery day 3 and sensitivity to light and eyes were watery. Vision was blurry for about a week, so I did have to take a couple more days off work than I planned to (doctor told me I should have planned for a week ahead of time, I should have listened.) For about a month after surgery, I wasn’t quite 20/20 but I could see! Seeing signs off in the distance was still a bit blurred but could definitely see well enough to function. I just kept slowly but surely gaining better eyesight as I healed. I just had my 3 month check up a couple weeks ago and I am 20/20 and can read on the 20/15 line! While PRK is a longer recovery process than lasik, it is worth it!! I wouldn’t change a thing and cannot think the doctors and their team enough. I can’t think of anywhere I’ve ever been where I’ve gotten better customer service. I hope this helps anyone who needed help making a decision on where to go for their vision!
Jesssica Wayman
Jesssica Wayman
December 20, 2022.
Had my lasik done about a week & 1/2 ago and could not be more happy! Libby the technician was fantastic! Dr. Massela was great and Dr. Davis who preformed my surgery was amazing! Everyone made me feel at ease and I definitely recommend this place. I can see 20/20 and even slightly better. Thank you Elite Lasik!
Breanna Orsi
Breanna Orsi
December 15, 2022.
The staff, the office, literally everything about this company is phenomenal. They were so helpful and accommodating as I traveled from out of state for the SMILE procedure. I am so grateful for how they’ve helped change my vision for the better!
Kate Goodyear
Kate Goodyear
December 15, 2022.
Elite Lasik provided a great, seamless, journey to gaining 20/20 vision! Their staff was very friendly and always willing to answer any questions. Definitely recommend getting a consultation here if you are interested in getting lasik done.
Barbara Logan
Barbara Logan
December 5, 2022.
I had Refractive Lens Exchange about 6 months ago and I am extremely pleased with the results. It has been life-changing to have clear, sharp vision. I can’t ever remember being able to see this well. I have not needed my contact lenses or reading glasses since the procedure. My night vision has improved dramatically. The procedure was painless, the people were wonderful, and the recovery was quick. I wish I would have had RLE years ago. Thank you, Elite!!
James Jordan
James Jordan
December 2, 2022.
Amazing place The ladies are just phenomenal. One week out and I'm at 2020 after wearing glasses for over 30 years.
laila abdalla
laila abdalla
November 23, 2022.
this place is genuinely amazing. the staff is so friendly! ive felt so welcomed there. yesterday i had my LASIK procedure done and i couldnt be happier with my results. the procedure was quick and painless. if you are on the fence about getting LASIK this is your sign to do it!!!! (they also play really good music and have really good snacks)
Mackenzie Tarble
Mackenzie Tarble
November 3, 2022.
I had a really great experience with all the staff and front office people. Libby and Keisha were super polite and always made me feel very comfortable. While the procedure was slightly uncomfortable for the first few hours right after, it was completely worth it and when I had questions the staff answered all of them in a timely and calm manner. My vision is now 20/15 and I’m pretty sure it’s better than even before I needed contacts as a kid! Would definitely recommend and will do so for any of my friends that want the same great service as I got. Thanks!