Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is gaining popularity as a surgical option for people who are over age 45 and beyond who want to decrease or eliminate their dependence on glasses or contacts. As we age, we all expect different parts of their body to become slightly less functional with wear and tear over time. People can be in excellent physical condition into their 80s and 90s. It doesn’t require world-record athletic ability to be able to function perfectly in our daily lives and seniors are more active today than ever.
When you are young, the natural lens acts like the zoom function in a camera, allowing you to focus up close, without the need for reading glasses or bifocals. However, the lens inside the human eye is designed to fail over time. It’s the only part of the body I can think of that inexorably gets worse to the point of non-functionality in a shorter timespan than it takes to grow very old. As you age, the lens progressively becomes dysfunctional resulting in loss of near vision (presbyopia) that requires the use of reading glasses or bifocals. With aging, the lens also progressively becomes hard, yellow and cloudy (cataract). Cataracts block and scatter light reducing visual quality, quantity and color perception. This progressive loss of function of the natural lens inside the eye is referred to as Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome.
Everyone gets cataracts. Fix the Problem Before It Starts.
Your lenses continually age throughout life. This results in the need for reading glasses or bifocals in your 40′s and eventually cataract surgery in your 70s or 80s. This is the reason that RLE prevents cataracts. Lens changes cause progressive deterioration in vision. More and more patients do not want to tolerate the years of progressive decline in their vision as they develop cataracts; they want it permanently fixed now and not be hindered by cataracts later in life.
With the advancement in technology and the safety of the procedure, patients are now choosing to have their natural lenses replaced at an earlier age. After RLE, cataract surgery will never be needed. The artificial lens will not age which provides visual stability to the lens of the eye. There are several lenses to choose from to best customize to your specific eyes.
One of the only downsides to RLE is missing out on the miraculous feeling of undoing 50 years of lens hardening and darkening in a 10 to 15-minute surgery. The only way to get that feeling, however, is to let the lens get that dysfunctional in the first place. Preventing that loss of function over the years is part of what makes RLE so miraculous, albeit in a more lifelong rather than spontaneous kind of way. It is the miracle of having a lens that doesn’t age, instead of a lens that seems to age quicker than the rest of you.
Also, I don’t know about you, but in the last year I have lost two expensive pairs of glasses, not to mention the countless ‘readers’ I have all over the house and my office. When I think of all the costs associated with glasses and contacts, RLE may be a great value monetarily as well. After all, great vision is priceless at any age!