One of life’s great ironies is that, just as we begin to get comfortable enough in our finances and family life to enjoy the travel, outdoors, and hobbies that we’ve always wanted to try, our bodies — in particular, our eyes — start to have different ideas. Vision loss, whether from inability to read close-up (called presbyopia) or because of cataracts, can be devastating to our quality of life.
First, the bad news: As we age, so do our eyes. No matter how much we focus on living healthy lifestyles, the inner lenses in our eyes get older, eventually causing every one of us to lose at least some visual acuity.
The good news is that we don’t need to suffer. Thanks to incredible advances in technology and science, a procedure called Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) can not only resolve age-related, “over 40” vision problems we develop over time, but also prevents the formation of cataracts.
By the time most of us reach our early 40s, we begin to find ourselves holding books, menus, and newspapers away from our eyes in order to see them. We may sit farther from our computer screens or struggle with sewing projects. We simply can’t make out words or details when they are close to our eyes. This condition is called presbyopia, and is often confused with farsightedness.
Presbyopia is caused by natural thickening and loss of flexibility of the lens inside of our eyes. Much like a camera lens stuck in one place, our lenses become unable to fine-tune to see many of the details we were once able to see.
In years gone by, our parents and grandparents had to accept these changes as part of getting older. Thankfully, we don’t.
More and more people are choosing Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) to not only correct and restore vision, but also to keep cataracts from developing or progressing, and to avoid future cataract surgery.
Through RLE, the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to correct vision loss due to nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia, or cataracts. Not only is vision greatly improved, but the positive changes are lasting.
If uncorrected, the same changes in the lenses of our eyes that cause presbyopia eventually lead to the formation of cataracts. A cataract occurs when the lens becomes cloudy, blocking light from entering the eye. Cataracts become progressively worse and can result in significant vision loss, eventually necessitating cataract surgery.
In years gone by, cataract surgery in St. Louis and across the nation was limited by the lens implants available to even the best cataract surgeons. They could not correct a full range of vision. Still today, many St. Louis cataract surgery centers rely on these lenses because they work well for cataract correction, but they don’t offer the freedom from glasses that our patients seek.
RLE is a similar surgical process, but instead of suffering with declining vision while waiting years for cataract development, your natural lens is replaced with one that corrects vision and prevents cataracts. For many patients, that means no more glasses, no more cataracts, and no more missing out on life’s beautiful moments.
Considering Refractive Lens Exchange?
RLE may be an excellent solution if you have:
- Difficulty reading without reading glasses or bifocals.
- Difficulty seeing nearby objects.
- Difficulty seeing to drive, especially at night.
- Changing glasses prescriptions.
- Being diagnosed with early cataract formation.
- A high degree of farsightedness (hyperopia).
- A strong prescription that cannot be corrected with LASIK.
- A high degree of astigmatism.
The technology involved in RLE is safer and more effective than ever, and has been used successfully worldwide. Not only are people freed from the barriers of cataracts, but for many people, they are also achieving a level of visual freedom they have never experienced before. Many patients are now opting to undergo RLE at earlier ages, before they suffer from vision loss caused by cataracts. They don’t have to let poor vision stop them from living the life they’ve always wanted to live.
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) in St. Louis: What to Expect
It is amazing that something as limiting as presbyopia or cataracts can be resolved in just 15 minutes, but it’s true. In our St. Louis facility, RLE takes just a few minutes to complete, and the visual freedom patients obtain can be dramatic.
On the day of the procedure, plan to be at Brinton Vision for about two hours. You will need someone to drive you home, as your vision will likely be blurry immediately following the procedure.
Just as if you were going to an eye examination, you don’t need to wear special clothes or change your attire while you’re here. The only thing we’ll add to your outfit is a small, blue cap which you’ll wear during the procedure.
Prior to beginning, we will repeat some of the same tests that were conducted during your Brinton Vision Ocular Analysis so that Dr. Brinton has the most accurate information possible about your vision.
When you’re ready for the procedure, numbing eye drops will be administered so that you are comfortable during the RLE. You will likely experience what some patients refer to as seeing a light show or looking through a kaleidoscope, but RLE patients should not experience pain. In a quick 15-minute procedure, the lens will be replaced through a small opening. Sutures are not typically needed as the incision is small and self-healing.
After the procedure, you will receive easy-to-follow instructions and a written hand-out on how to use your eye drops. Our highly trained surgical technicians will answer any questions you may have, and Dr. Brinton will provide his personal phone number, should you have concerns once you return home.
Even though RLE involves replacement of the lens, no eye patch is needed. People typically return to work or other normal activities the next day. What’s more, RLE eliminates the need for future cataract surgery. A Brinton Vision Ocular Analysis will determine if RLE is a good solution for you!