LASIK Surgery vs Refractive Lens Exchange: Which One Is Better for Me?

Is your eyesight perfect? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent study by the medical journal The Lancet found that 36 million people in the world are blind, and 216 million people have moderate to severe visual impairment. Another 188 million people have mild visual impairment.

The good news: You don’t have to live with a condition like nearsightedness or clouded vision forever. Surgical advances have broken a lot of new ground in the field of eye surgery and have resulted in several vision correction options. Two of the leading surgical treatments for refractive errors are LASIK and refractive lens exchange (RLE).

What’s the difference between RLE and LASIK? And which type of refractive surgery is right for you?

What Is LASIK?

LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is one of the most frequently performed elective procedures in North America. The procedure uses a laser to reshape the cornea to correct common refractive errors, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Successful LASIK surgery reduces, and sometimes eliminates, the need for glasses and contact lenses.

LASIK is usually considered an elective surgery and may not be covered by insurance, although it’s still worth asking your insurance company about advanced vision correction options.

What Is Refractive Lens Exchange(RLE)?

Older adults, especially those who have never worn glasses, may think LASIK is their only solution as they begin to age and need reading glasses. However, due to the number of disqualifying factors, many people 40 and older may not be good candidates for LASIK.

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) replaces your eye’s natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This procedure is typically reserved for patients who experience a change in their vision due to the natural aging of the eye.

Lens replacement surgery is identical to cataract surgery; the difference is that RLE replaces a clear lens rather than a lens that has become cloudy due to a cataract. As in cataract surgery, the types of artificial lenses available with lens replacement surgery are the same and depend on the health of your eyes.

Refractive Lens Exchange vs LASIK

If you’re considering eye surgery to improve your vision, talk to an eye doctor to learn about your options, which may include options in addition to LASIK and RLE. In any case, the best way to decide whether LASIK or lens replacement surgery is right for you is to consult with an eye doctor. To give you a general idea of the differences between these two vision correction surgeries, here is a quick side-by-side comparison of LASIK and RLE.

Corrective Uses• Mild/moderate myopia
• Hyperopia
• Astigmatism
• Moderate/severe hyperopia
• Presbyopia
• Early Cataracts
ProcedureOutpatient procedure, about 15 minutes per eye. Outpatient procedure, about 20-30 minutes per eye.
Recovery 2-7 days2-7 days (normal activities), 6-12 weeks for complete adjustment
Contraindications• Thin cornea
• Diabetic retinopathy
• Cataracts/glaucoma
• Eye disease
• Autoimmune disorders
• High corneal astigmatism
• Retinal damage
• Autoimmune disorders
• Suitable candidate for other refractive surgery options
More Info Free Lasik GuideRFE Patient Information

Learn More About Corrective Eye Surgery

Not every procedure works for every situation. Talk to your eye doctor about the best treatment for your vision problems. We offer a free LASIK consultation to help you determine if you’re a candidate for one of these procedures.

If you need an eye doctor who can help you make smart decisions about your eye health, schedule an appointment with Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center today to discuss your corrective options.

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