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Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Surgery in Chicago, IL

Refractive eye surgery is periodically not a suitable option for correcting a patient's vision.That may be due to age, previous surgeries, an unusual prescription, or another eye condition. Advancements in IOL (intraocular lens) technology have allowed individuals to achieve clear vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses. Lens replacement surgery is an option for more people than ever! We encourage you to read more about this option and schedule an appointment today at The Kraff Eye Institute to learn even more!

What Is a Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Eye Surgery?

A Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), Clear Lens Extraction/Lens Replacement Surgery, or Refractive Lensectomy, may be an alternative option for an individual that does not qualify for a laser-based procedure, but still desires to be less dependent on glasses and contact lenses. 

During LASER vision correction, Dr. Kraff uses a LASER to remove a microscopic amount of tissue from the cornea, to refocus the light entering the eye onto the retina. With RLE technology, the surgeon will make a small, self-healing, incision around 3mm, into the patient's eye to remove the patient's natural crystalline lens that sits behind the colored part of the eye called the iris. Once the lens is removed, the surgeon will then insert an artificial intraocular lens (IOL), into the same place that the natural lens was positioned.

The IOL contains a prescription, thus helping to reduce the need for glasses or contacts. The prescription of the IOL is customized to the needed power of each individual eye. RLE can treat a variety of refractive errors, including high levels of myopia, high levels of hyperopia, high levels of astigmatism and presbyopia.

The RLE procedure is very similar to the procedure to remove a cataract, in the sense that both procedures involve removing a patient's natural crystalline lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). However, a cataract is a condition in which, over time and with age, the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy and yellow. As this occurs, the light that enters the eye has a difficult time passing through the lens to hit the retina at the back of the eye, allowing the brain to process the image. An individual who chooses to have RLE surgery, may not have a cataract, they may only have a refractive error they wish to correct.

When you need RLE

A Refractive Lens Exchange can help patients who have:

A Refractive Lens Exchange is like a cataract surgery in the sense that both procedures are removing a patient’s natural crystalline lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). A cataract however is a condition in the eye where, over time, the natural lens becomes cloudy and yellow. As this happens, the light that enters the eye has a harder time passing through the lens to hit the retina at the back of the eye.

What to Expect During The Refractive Lens Exchange Procedure

Eye Exam

Having a comprehensive, dilated eye exam is the only way to know which vision correction procedure will be the safest and most effective for your vision needs..While your dilated eye exam will involve extensive diagnostic testing, it is also an opportunity to discuss your symptoms, your lifestyle, your goals and your expectations. All of these factors play a crucial role in determining if and what procedure is best for you. A comprehensive eye exam can take up to 90 minutes, as the dilation process can take 30 minutes.  After the eyes are fully dilated, and all data is collected, Dr. Kraff will examine you, discuss his treatment recommendation, and answer any questions you may have. 

Before Procedure

Before moving forward with RLE, Dr. Kraff will discuss the various lens implant options that he feels will achieve your goal of being less dependent on glasses and contact lenses. Based on your pre-op, dilated exam, Dr. Kraff can create a tailored treatment plan for you. You will receive prescriptions for anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops that you will need to fill prior to the day of surgery. These drops will help to prevent infection and inflammation following your surgical procedure.

Day of Procedure

Your surgery will occur at an out-patient surgical center. It is recommended you bring a companion with you, to assist in your safe trip home. We recommend you wear comfortable clothes and leave all valuables at home. Upon arrival, you will be asked to sign an informed consent document, giving permission to Dr. Kraff to perform your surgery. You will then be taken into a room and given several drops to prepare your eye for surgery. You will be given an IV which will deliver medication to help you relax, most people feel sleepy during the procedure.


Following your procedure, you will continue to use your anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drops as Dr. Kraff instructs you to. Everyone heals differently, and your drop schedule will be unique to your healing process. Many patients are able to resume normal activities within a few days of the procedure. As you continue to heal, and adapt to your new lens, the quality of your vision will also continue to improve.


Clear Lens Exchange (CLE) Implant Options

During your consultation visit, Dr. Kraff will discuss which type of intraocular lens he recommends based on your specific refractive error, your lifestyle and your goals. The lens used during your lens replacement surgery will be tailored to your individual needs. There are several different intraocular lens types that can be used during RLE surgery.

Light Adjustable Lenses

The Light Adjustable Lens is made of a special photo-sensitive material that changes the power of your surgically implanted lens in response to UV light, increasing the likelihood that you will achieve your desired vision following the procedure. This type of lens is most often used for patients with a cataract but can also be used for individuals during refractive lens exchange.

Toric Lenses

When a patient has a cornea, the clear front part of the eye, that is shaped more like an oval instead of a sphere, they have an astigmatism. Astigmatism is a common eye condition that affects millions of people, leading to blurred vision at both distance and near. With advancements in lens technology, it is now possible to correct that astigmatism with a Toric lens. This premium lens is a single lens that is implanted during cataract surgery and refractive lens exchange.

Multifocal Lenses

If your goal is to be less dependent on glasses, including for near vision. A multifocal lens might be right for you. Many people are unable to tolerate monovision (1 eye set for distance and 1 eye set for near), a multifocal lens will allow a patient to have the advantage of quality distance and near vision. Multifocal lenses work by using diffraction rings on the lens that optically split incoming light into distance and near.

Monovision IOL

Monovision lenses correct a patient's dominant eye for distance, while leaving the non-dominant eye slightly undercorrected so the patient can retain the ability to see near. Many people who have success wearing monovision contact lenses, have similar success with monovision intraocular lenses.

Phakic IOL

Phakic IOL refers to the fact that the lens is implanted into the eye without removing the eye's natural lens. A phakic lens implant is an excellent option for patients who suffer from high myopia or nearsightedness.

Attain Clear Vision With Kraff Eye Institute

If you would like to learn more about the exciting opportunities lens replacement surgery has to offer, contact The Kraff Eye Institute today to schedule your personal, no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

What Are The Benefits of RLE?

Patients that choose to undergo refractive lens exchange, are able to significantly reduce their dependency upon corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses. RLE can be an option for individuals who are unable to or do not qualify for a laser based vision correction procedure. The advantages include:

  • Quick visual recovery
  • Permanent results
  • Eliminates the need for cataract surgery in the future
  • Significant reduction in the need for glasses or contacts

Who Is a Good Candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)?

Clear lens exchange or CLE, is an excellent procedure for people over 40 who are nearsighted, or farsighted, people who have early cataract formation, and individuals who want to treat their presbyopia. RLE can be a fantastic option for people who do not qualify for LASIK or PRK due to the level of their prescription.

Refractive Lens Exchange or Refractive Lensectomy is for individuals who:

  • Are over the age of 40 who are nearsighted, farsighted, or has astigmatism
  • Want to reduce their dependence on glasses or contact lenses
  • Have early clouding of the natural lens
  • Want to treat presbyopia
  • Are looking for an alternative to LASIK or PRK

Reviews For Refractive Lens Exchange Services At Kraff Eye, Chicago


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Why Choose Kraff Eye for Clear Lensectomy?

At The Kraff Eye Institute, we know every one of our patients is unique, from their eyes to their lifestyles and goals, that is why we offer personalized options to meet your specific vision needs. As a leader in the industry, Dr. Kraff is one of the most reputable and skilled surgeons, delivering exceptional results while maintaining the highest levels of safety. Dr.Kraff has built his reputation on providing the most up to date, advanced technology available to his patients. As a result, our patients achieve an extraordinary level of success. Our staff is dedicated to providing a comfortable, attentive environment for our patients. Dr. Kraff will guide you through the process of clear lens extraction surgery, and assist you in making a well informed decision regarding the lensectomy procedure.

Cost of Refractive Lens Exchange

The exact cost of the clear lens exchange procedure will depend on the type of lens that Dr. Kraff recommends for you. The cost of the lens replacement can vary, depending on the level of refractive error required to treat your eyes. A RLE procedure is considered an elective procedure and therefore, most insurance will not cover the cost.

Financial Options

The Kraff Eye Institute has maintained a partnership with CareCredit, America's top patient payment program. CareCredit provides our patients with the freedom to move forward with their vision care procedure, then paying for it conveniently with low monthly payments.

About Your Refractive Lens Exchange Doctor

Dr. Colman Kraff has been at the forefront of eye surgery, he is one of the most experienced and reputable eye surgeons in the Midwest. Dr. Kraffs commitment to advancements in technology, personally participating in many FDA clinical trials, has allowed him to deliver superior results, while maintaining the highest levels of safety. 

Dr. Kraff is a Chicago native, he enjoys running and photography. He is happiest when spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren.

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Surgery FAQ

Does Clear Lens Exchange Surgery Hurt?

Expand F.A.Q.

No, lens exchange surgery is a painless and safe procedure. Prior to surgery you will receive numbing drops, along with a local anesthetic.

What Are The Risks & Complications Associated With RLE?

Expand F.A.Q.

All surgical procedures come with potential risks. Although very, very rare, risks can include infection, retinal detachment, double vision, light sensitivity, and lens dislocation. During your initial consultation, Dr. Kraff will discuss risks, in detail, so you can make an educated, informed decision.

Is Refractive Lens Exchange Permanent?

Expand F.A.Q.

Since the procedure replaces the natural lens of the eye with an artificial one, the implant is permanent and usually does not need removing.

Will Both Eyes Be Treated At The Same Time During RLE?

Expand F.A.Q.

No. One eye is treated at a time. Once the primary eye is treated and healed, you can schedule the second eye.

Schedule Consultation

You can simply CALL US or make an appointment using the online forms at the links below

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