Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is very similar to cataract surgery in that it involves replacing the eyes natural lens with premium intraocular lens implant. The techniques involved are very similar as well. RLE is typically performed for one of three reasons. The first possible reason is to replace a lens that shows early signs of cataract formation. By treating a cloudy lens early, it is possible to avoid the process of gradual vision loss that accompanies the formation of cataracts. This option is particularly attractive to those who reduce their dependence on glasses and contact lenses.
RLE can also be used to treat presbyopia and astigmatism. The third reason some choose to have refractive lens exchange is to treat nearsightedness or farsightedness so extreme that LASIK cannot be used. With LASIK, the cornea can only be safely reshaped enough to treat a refractive errors within a certain range. Patients with larger refractive errors cannot have LASIK performed, but undergoing RLE is still could be a good option.