Clear lens exchange is a surgical procedure that replaces your eye’s clear natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This can improve your vision and reduce your need for reading glasses or bifocals.
There are three types of IOLs available to replace your natural lens:
- Monofocal fixed-focus IOLs provide clear vision at one distance, such as distance or near.
- Multifocal IOLs provide clear vision at multiple distances.
- Toric IOLs to correct astigmatism also are classified as monofocal IOLs.
Our eye surgeon will recommend an IOL that is most suitable for your individual needs.
Clear lens exchange is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Each eye is done separately, usually about two weeks apart. The procedure takes about 15 minutes and is performed under IV sedation.
Most people report immediate vision improvement after clear lens exchange. However, it may take up to several weeks for your vision to fully recover. You may experience some vision disturbances such as blurry vision, halos and glare during the recovery period.
When should I consider CLE for my eye problem?
Clear lens exchange is typically done for people with presbyopia. nearsightedness or extreme farsightedness, for whom LASIK or PRK surgery is not suitable. If you have both presbyopia and moderate to severe hyperopia, clear lens exchange may be the only viable option for clear vision and minimal reliance on glasses after refractive surgery. Our ophthalmologist will determine your eligibility and best surgery choice for your situation.
The procedure for clear lens exchange is virtually identical to cataract surgery. The difference is that in clear lens exchange, the lens being replaced is clear, rather than a cloudy lens due to a cataract.
Pros and cons of CLE
- Provides a long-term solution for correcting vision, potentially eliminating or reducing dependence on contacts or glasses.
- Can correct a wider range of refractive errors than traditional LASIK or PRK surgery.
- Can improve vision in patients with cataracts, a common age-related condition that causes a clouding of the lens.
- Low risk of postoperative complications or infections.
- Generally provides immediate improvement in vision after surgery.
- Can prevent or delay the need for cataract surgery later in life.
- As with any surgical procedure, there may be some risks involved, such as infection, bleeding, and inflammation.
- There is a possibility of developing a condition called posterior capsule opacity, which causes clouding of the posterior lens capsule and can cause some blurriness of vision months or years after the surgery.
- Clear lens exchange surgery is typically more expensive than traditional LASIK or PRK surgery.
- Not all patients are good candidates for clear lens exchange surgery, and some may require alternative vision correction methods.
- Recovery time after surgery can be longer than LASIK or PRK.
It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and that the specific advantages and disadvantages of clear lens exchange surgery may vary depending on each individual patient’s unique situation. It is important to discuss any concerns or questions with a qualified ophthalmologist to determine whether this procedure is a good option.
- Preoperative evaluation
The patient’s eyes are thoroughly examined by our eye doctor to determine the correct power of lens needed for each eye. This includes measuring the curvature of the cornea, the length of the eye, and the patient’s refractive error.
Before the surgery begins, the patient will receive eye drops, to numb the eye being operated on, as well as IV sedation.
- Creating an incision
Using a small surgical instrument, our surgeon creates a small incision in the cornea. This incision is typically less than 3 mm in size and is made in a manner to minimize damage to the surrounding tissues.
- Removing the natural lens
Our surgeon then uses a process called phacoemulsification to remove the clear natural lens of the eye. This involves using sound waves to break up the lens into small pieces, which are then suctioned out through a small tube.
- Inserting the artificial lens
Once the natural lens is removed, our surgeon inserts an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) through the small incision. The IOL is typically made of silicone or acrylic and is designed to replace the natural lens of the eye.
- Positioning the IOL
Our surgeon then positions the IOL in the correct location where the natural lens used to be, using specialized instruments. The lens is positioned in a way that corrects the patient’s refractive error and provides clear vision.
- Closing the incision
The incision is typically self-sealing and does not require sutures (stitches) to close it.
- Post-operative care
After the surgery, the patient will rest in a recovery area for a brief period and may be given eye drops to use for several weeks to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. It is important to use these eye drops as directed.
A follow-up visit will be scheduled to monitor healing progress and ensure that the patient’s vision is improving as expected. At this visit, our eye doctor will evaluate the patient’s vision and remove any sutures if they were used. The second eye will typically be scheduled for surgery about two weeks apart.
Types of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a complex condition and has several types. The two most common types, primary open-angle, and angle-closure glaucoma, account for most cases. Primary open-angle glaucoma is caused by the slow drainage of fluid from the trabecular channels of the eye, resulting in increased intraocular pressure.
An astounding 95 percent of people with glaucoma suffer from the primary open-angle form. Conversely, angle-closure glaucoma arises when the trabecular channels become suddenly and completely blocked.
Apart from primary open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma, several rare types of glaucoma exist, such as:
- Low-tension glaucoma: This type of glaucoma occurs even when intraocular pressure remains normal.
- Congenital glaucoma: It is present in infants and young children due to an abnormality in the structural and functional development of the eye drainage channels.
- Secondary glaucoma: It occurs as a result of inflammation, trauma, or other medical conditions.
- Pigmentary glaucoma: It arises when pigments within the iris block the drainage channels of the eye.
- Pseudoexfoliation glaucoma: It occurs when abnormal proteins accumulate in the drainage channel of the eyes, leading to glaucoma.
Awareness of the various types of glaucoma is vital for early identification and prompt treatment to prevent irreversible vision loss.
Frequently Asked Questions about CLE
WHO IS A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR CLEAR LENS EXCHANGE SURGERY?
Clear lens exchange surgery is usually recommended for individuals with severe refractive errors or cataracts who are not candidates for other refractive surgeries such as LASIK or PRK. It is important to undergo a thorough evaluation with our eye doctor to determine if you are a good candidate.
IS CLEAR LENS EXCHANGE SURGERY PAINFUL?
No, clear lens exchange surgery is not typically painful. Drops to numb the eye are administered before the surgery begins, as well as IV sedation.
HOW LONG DOES THE SURGERY TAKE?
The procedure itself typically takes around 15-20 minutes per eye. However, patients generally need to spend a few hours at the surgical center on the day of the procedure for pre-operative evaluation and post-operative care.
HOW SOON CAN I RETURN TO NORMAL ACTIVITIES AFTER THE SURGERY?
Most patients can resume normal activities within a few days of the procedure. However, it is important to avoid strenuous activities and minimize exposure to sunlight or other bright light sources for a few weeks after the surgery.
WILL I STILL NEED GLASSES AFTER THE SURGERY?
The goal of clear lens exchange surgery is to correct your vision so that you have minimal to no reliance on contact lenses or glasses. However, it is possible that some patients may still require glasses for certain activities.
WHAT IS THE SUCCESS RATE FOR CLEAR LENS EXCHANGE SURGERY?
Clear lens exchange surgery is considered a very safe and effective procedure, with a high success rate. However, like all surgical procedures, there is a small risk of complications or side effects.
CAN BOTH EYES BE TREATED ON THE SAME DAY?
Yes, it is possible to undergo clear lens exchange surgery on both eyes on the same day. However, our surgeon tends to recommend treating one eye at a time to minimize potential complications.
HOW OFTEN WILL I NEED TO HAVE MY ARTIFICIAL LENSES REPLACED?
The artificial intraocular lens is a permanent replacement for your natural lens and is designed to last the rest of your life. There is also minimal risk of regression (loss of corrective effect or deterioration of vision) over time.
IS CLEAR LENS EXCHANGE SURGERY COVERED BY INSURANCE?
Clear lens exchange surgery is generally not covered by insurance for patients who do not have cataracts.
If you are considering clear lens exchange, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits with our eye surgeon in detail.