By the time most people hit their early 40s, they begin to experience difficulty with close up (reading) vision. Sometimes confused with farsightedness, this age-related condition is called presbyopia and is defined as the loss of the eye’s flexibility to change focus (or zoom) through a range of distances.
When we are younger, the natural lens acts like the zoom function in a camera, allowing us to focus up close, without the need for reading glasses or bifocals. Another very common age-related vision problem is the development of cataracts, which occurs when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy and unable to focus to produce sharp images.
The good news is that both of these common vision problems can now be treated very effectively with the new generation of accommodating, multifocal, and extended depth of focus intraocular lens implants that restore seamless all-distance vision to aging eyes.
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is gaining popularity as an affordable treatment option, typically for people over 40 who want to decrease or eliminate their dependence on glasses or contacts. During RLE, the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens to correct vision (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia) and eliminate the need for cataract surgery in the future. Dr. Parkhurst is highly trained and one of the most experienced surgeons in Texas performing this modern-day surgical technique.
When should you consider Refractive Lens Exchange?
If you are experiencing the following visual changes:
- Difficulty reading without reading glasses or bifocals
- Difficulty seeing near objects
- Difficulty seeing to drive, especially at night
- Changing glasses prescriptions
- Have been diagnosed with early cataract formation
- High degree of farsightedness (hyperopia)
With the advancement in technology and the safety of the procedure, many people who undergo cataract surgery experience not only the cure of their cataracts but for the first time in their lives, they also achieve the benefits of vision correction like those who undergo LASIK. Therefore, many of our patients are now choosing to have their dysfunctional natural lenses replaced at earlier ages. Because of their active lifestyles, these people do not want to have to tolerate the years of progressive decline in their vision as they develop cataracts; they want it fixed permanently now.
Refractive Lens Exchange has many benefits, primarily the improvement in both near and distance vision. Since the natural lens has been replaced, cataract surgery will not be needed in the future, and the artificial lens is not expected to require any replacement or maintenance, providing visual stability to the lens of the eye.
Advanced Technology Lens Options
An Advanced Technology lens is a lifestyle choice to bring your normal activities into focus. Dr. Parkhurst will help you select the lens that will best achieve your vision goals.
Presbyopia Correcting Lenses
Multi-focal and accommodative lenses allow people to see distance and near; eliminating or reducing a patient’s dependence on reading glasses or bifocals. These lenses can also be used in different combinations to increase the range of vision. Some eyes take longer than others to grow accustomed to a multi-focal lens, and the potential exists for halos and glare, particularly at night. However, these issues have been limited and usually improve over time.
Presbyopia-correcting lenses on the market today include:
- Tecnis Multifocal
Toric Lenses for Astigmatism
Patients with astigmatism now have an option for clear vision after RLE. Toric lens implants treat nearsightedness or farsightedness in addition to astigmatism simultaneously. Toric implants may be used to improve distance and near vision, even in both eyes.
What to Expect on the Procedure Day
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is an outpatient experience. It usually takes less than 10-15 minutes to complete. Numbing eye drops and a mild sedative is used to prepare you for the procedure, which is completely painless. Patients may note a pressure sensation and a “light show” during the procedure. No sutures are needed as the lens is replaced through a self-sealing temporary opening. Our doctors and highly trained staff will advise you with easy-to-follow instructions and also provide a written hand-out on how to use drops and medications after your procedure.
It is important to take it easy and get plenty of rest during the first few days after the procedure. As with LASIK, patients recovering from RLE are advised to avoid rubbing their eyes, as this could disrupt the healing of the eye. Most patients see improved visual recovery within a few days. Though the surgical technique is different than LASIK, RLE provides the particular benefit of restoring both near and far vision and eliminating the need for cataract surgery in the future.
Contact Parkhurst-NuVision today to schedule your appointment or call (210) 851-9587 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
If you are searching for an alternative to LASIK for improved vision, undergoing RLE may be the ideal solution. Contact Parkhurst-NuVision, serving San Antonio, New Braunfels, Corpus Christi, Uvalde, and other Texas communities, to learn more about RLE and how it can improve your vision.