In the United States alone, over 800,000 refractive surgeries like LASIK and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) are performed annually. RLE, or refractive lens exchange, is one of the most popular and misunderstood procedures.

The eye loses its capacity to focus on close-up objects as the natural lens inside the eye starts to stiffen up as we age. Bifocal glasses or over-the-counter reading glasses are the answer that most patients ultimately rely on to deal with blurred vision and enhance their close vision. RLE techniques can quickly, simply, and safely replace the natural lens inside the eye with a cutting-edge artificial lens. For many people, this means getting rid of their glasses or contact lenses completely.

It’s commonly believed that the average patient can’t afford refractive lens exchanges. However, most people can afford the RLE procedure thanks to modern financing options.

A thorough understanding of just how life-changing the refractive lens exchange procedure is may motivate you to find room in your budget. After all, the benefits of better eyesight extend to every waking moment of your life.

What is refractive lens exchange?

Many people choose a refractive lens exchange (RLE), also called Custom Lens Replacement (CLR), not only to correct and restore vision but also to keep cataracts from developing or progressing, therefore avoiding future cataract surgery.

During a refractive lens exchange surgical procedure, the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to correct vision loss due to nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, aging vision, or cataracts. Not only is vision greatly improved, but the positive changes are long-lasting.

There are three main types of IOLs: accommodating, multifocal, and monofocal fixed focus.

A monofocal fixed-focus IOL is designed to improve vision but treat only one type of refractive error. Depending on which of these areas the patient wants to see well in, they offer sharp vision at a close, immediate, or far distance. They can only be set for one particular distance.

An increased range of vision is possible with accommodating IOLs. They are a different kind of monofocal lens that can change focus power by moving within the eye and improve visual acuity.

Multifocal intraocular lenses (IOLs) are cutting-edge technology that improves vision and allows for multiple ranges of vision. They are fixed in the eye and use a high-tech lens to correct vision for a variety of distances.

Less than 15 minutes is all that is needed for each eye during a refractive lens exchange surgery. One eye is treated at a time with a numbing eye drop and local anesthesia to alleviate discomfort. In general, most people no longer need corrective lenses after a refractive lens exchange for most daily activities.

Are you ready to take the next step in your visual freedom?

Does the lens implant last forever?

During a refractive lens exchange, a biocompatible lens is used to replace a natural lens that is cloudy or misshaped. The eye’s natural lens does not regrow, and the new artificial intraocular lens does not deteriorate. Patients who have custom lens replacement surgery can typically anticipate that the vision they gain will outlast them. RLE offers the additional advantage of preventing the development of cataracts in the future.

What is the average cost of a refractive lens exchange (RLE) in the United States?

A refractive lens exchange may cost, on average, between $4,000 and $10,000 per eye in the United States. A variety of factors can influence how much you ultimately pay for refractive lens exchange, as well as LASIK surgery and its alternatives. These variables include the patient’s treatment plan, the standard of care given, the method used to pay for the surgery, and more.

At Brinton Vision, we believe the refractive lens exchange cost is well worth it, based on the many life transformations we’ve witnessed over the years. However, we also know that when it comes to any medical treatment, the quality of your results will depend greatly on your surgeon’s experience, technology, and time devoted to each patient’s individual needs. To learn more about refractive lens exchange costs or to schedule your consultation to see if you are a candidate for RLE, call our office today.

More FAQ’s about Cost of RLE Surgery St. Louis

What are the biggest factors affecting refractive lens exchange costs?

The cost of refractive lens exchange surgery, also referred to as custom lens replacement surgery reflects more on the quality and thoroughness of treatment received from a qualified healthcare professional.

Use these three criteria to gauge the level of care a potential LASIK and vision correction surgeon may offer you:

First, Expertise. Look for ophthalmologists who are board-certified, well-educated, and have fellowship training in refractive surgery. Choose refractive surgeons who are assisted by knowledgeable and experienced personnel. Visit the practice website for information on their credentials, and look through patient testimonials for specifics on their experiences with the staff.

Secondly, Technology. Equipping a refractive surgery clinic with advanced, top-tier diagnostic and laser surgery equipment is no easy task, but surgeons who value precision will stop at nothing to get the best equipment. While using the best tools and a trained surgeon to execute a precise custom lens replacement surgery does increase the expense of the procedure, patients benefit from this greatly. Ask about the equipment that will be used on your eyes to select your lenses and perform the vision correction procedure.

Finally, Time. The process of having eye surgery can be intimidating. This is why it is important that surgeons invest in well-trained, caring staff. Patients at Brinton Vision should expect individualized care from a compassionate staff. Each patient gets the opportunity to consult with his or her surgeon before and after surgery to understand their treatment and aftercare thoroughly and to ask any questions. Medical technicians are also available to answer questions by phone, email, or text message. On the day of surgery, our surgeons give Brinton Vision patients their personal cell phone numbers and encourage them to call with any questions.

Brinton Vision will never sacrifice any of these significant investments because we are convinced that these important factors enable us to give our patients the exceptional treatment they deserve as well as the best visual results.

Does the location of the vision correction center influence the cost of the procedure?

Costs for refractive lens exchanges will vary by location. Even if everything else is the same, the same treatment and care in a high-cost-of-living city like New York City or San Francisco will typically cost much more than it would in the affordable Midwest. Therefore when considering the lens replacement surgery cost, determine whether you might be paying more due to extremely expensive real estate. Prioritize finding an eye surgeon that provides experience, technology, and time.

Is refractive lens exchange surgery covered by insurance?

Refractive lens exchange and other vision correction procedures are viewed by insurance companies as elective procedures, meaning they are not medically necessary. Since most people don’t have these procedures to enhance their appearance, this does not imply that they are cosmetic. All of our procedures are medical costs that, under certain conditions, can be written off as a tax deduction by the IRS. In our St. Louis location, patients can often utilize funds from their health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) to pay in full or in part for refractive lens exchange.

Additionally, Brinton Vision partners with lenders to provide our patients low- or no-interest payment plans with no down payment. Ask our staff about financing, and talk to your tax preparer about possible tax deductions for vision correction surgery.

Is refractive lens exchange surgery worth the cost?

Brinton Vision patients who have undergone a refractive lens exchange tell us that the advantages of refractive lens exchange make the cost well worth it. Many would say the improved visual perception and independence from glasses and contacts they experience is priceless. Patients who have the procedure can benefit from a long-lasting solution for their visual problems.

Medical conditions like cataracts can even be prevented by refractive lens exchange, thus saving the costs associated with cataract surgery in the future. The refractive lens exchange risks are low, and the procedure has a short recovery period allowing people to get back to their usual daily schedule following surgery rapidly and avoid missing extended time off work.

Refractive lens exchange, or custom lens replacement, is an excellent option for correcting vision problems and a great alternative to LASIK. With the proper care, you’ll be able to see the world more clearly and get back to enjoying life. Please feel free to get in touch with our experienced team at Brinton Vision if you are ready to schedule your Brinton Vision Ocular Analysis or if you have any additional questions concerning refractive lens exchange surgery.

To learn more about refractive lens exchange in St. Louis, start with Brinton Vision’s 60-second online self-test.

Dr. Jason P. Brinton is an internationally recognized specialist in the field of LASIK and refractive surgery. He is a graduate of Harvard College, earned his medical doctorate from the Harvard Medical School and is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.