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When you think of refractive lens exchange (RLE) surgery do you think of needles poking through your eye and a hard lens being forced into your eye? Don’t worry, because this could not be further from the truth. RLE surgery does not involve any sharp needles and the operation is carried out using micro-incisions. The lenses used are made of a pliable plastic material which gently unfolds as it enters the eye.

Many people have the perception that RLE surgery is a risky, painful process; however, the procedure itself is relatively quick, pain-free and the risks are minimal if you choose an experienced surgeon.
Before you undergo surgery the surgeon will use anaesthetic eye drops to numb your eye. A speculum is then used to gently keep the eyelids in an open position to prevent blinking for the duration of the operation. By this point the anaesthetic has already taken effect. Some patients find the idea of having their eye prised open a bit scary, if this is true for you, the best thing to do is just relax.

We can give you a tablet before surgery to help you relax if you think this will help you and in some cases we can organise to have an anaesthetist present to administer light sedation or a general anaesthetic if deemed necessary. All of this will be discussed at your initial consultation.

During the procedure your eye will be completely numb as the anaesthetic will now be in full effect. You will be asked to look ahead. You may experience some pressure sensations during the op but no pain as such. The procedure typically takes 10-15 minutes and most people say it’s better than being at the dentist!

After the surgery you may feel some discomfort or irritation for up to twenty four hours and your vision may be a little blurry. As the healing process progresses the irritation will disappear and your vision will get clearer and clearer as your eyes adjust to the new lenses and your pupils come back down to their normal size.

We advise that you go straight home after your RLE surgery and rest your eyes that evening being sure to use your eye drops as advised in your post- operative instruction sheet. By the time you come back for your check up your eyes should feel comfortable, your vision will be much clearer and you should already notice the benefits of your new life without glasses or contact lenses!