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Refractive Lens Exchange

What is Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Surgery?

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) surgery uses a femtosecond laser and ultrasound to remove the natural lens of the eye and replaces it with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant. This vision-correcting surgery can eliminate the need for glasses and contacts. Good candidates for this procedure include:

  • Patients who are over age 40-50, are nearsighted or farsighted, and have minimal cataract formation
  • Individuals who want to treat presbyopia (gradual decline in the ability to focus on close objects requiring the use of reading glasses) with a multifocal implant.

RLE surgery is a permanent procedure that will work for a lifetime, and patients who undergo this procedure will never develop a cataract.

What to Expect

RLE takes only about 7 to 10 minutes per eye, and Dr. Salisbury typically does one eye at a time on separate procedure days. The procedure consists of the doctor creating small incisions in the eye with a femtosecond laser. Next, using ultrasound, the natural lens is gently fragmented and removed, and then an acrylic multifocal intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted to replace the natural lens that was removed. This lens implant restores vision at all ranges, eliminating the need for any glasses or contacts. No stitches are required, and the vision is typically clear within a few days.


Most often, patients can resume driving and other normal activities within a few days of having RLE surgery. Full results are usually experienced within a few weeks, but until then, patients may have mildly blurred vision, glare, halos, and slight discomfort.


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