Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) in Chicago, IL

Welcome to the Kraff Eye Institute in Chicago, IL, your trusted destination for refractive lens exchange (RLE) surgery. Our experienced team of ophthalmologists and state-of-the-art technology accentuates our commitment to providing you with a life-changing vision correction experience. Choose Kraff Eye for your RLE procedure and take the first step towards clearer vision, free of contacts or glasses.

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

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

A refractive lens exchange (RLE), also known as clear lens extraction, lens replacement surgery, or refractive lensectomy, can be an alternative option for those who don't qualify for a laser-based procedure but still wish to be less dependent on glasses and contact lenses.

How does RLE in Chicago work? 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. Utilizing RLE technology, Dr. Kraff 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, he will then insert an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) into the same place that the natural lens was previously positioned.

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

Who Is a Candidate for Clear Lens Extraction (CLE)?

Who Is a Candidate for Clear Lens Extraction (CLE)?

Clear lens exchange or CLE, is an excellent vision correction 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 ideal for individuals who:

Undergoing this surgical procedure may be not ideal if you have any of the following conditions:

  • An eye disease that affects your cornea;
  • Age-related macular degeneration;
  • Diabetes-related retinopathy;
  • Risk factors for retinal detachment;
  • Uveitis.
nearsightedness myopia
nearsightedness myopia

What Is the Difference Between Cataract Surgery and Refractive Lens Exchange?

The RLE procedure is very similar to cataract surgery 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, causing the brain to interpret a blurry image. Those who choose to have RLE surgery may not have a cataract, they may only have a refractive error they want to correct.

Schedule an RLE Surgery Consultation in Chicago

Ready for clearer vision? Schedule a clear lens exchange free consultation with Kraff Eye Institute today.

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Glaucoma Treatment

What to Expect During the Refractive Lens Exchange Procedure

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 individual vision needs. While your dilated eye exam will involve extensive diagnostic testing, it's 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 alone 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 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 and dilated exam, Dr. Kraff will create a tailored treatment plan for you. You'll receive prescriptions for anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops that you'll need to fill prior to the surgery. These drops will help to prevent infection and inflammation following your surgical procedure.

Day of Procedure

Your surgery will occur at an outpatient surgical center. We recommend bringing a companion with you to drive you and ensure that you get home safely. It's also ideal to wear comfortable clothes and leave all valuables at home. Upon arrival, you'll be asked to sign an informed consent document that gives permission to Dr. Kraff to perform your surgery. You'll then be taken into a room and given several drops to prepare your eye for surgery. An administered IV will deliver medication to help you relax, and most people feel sleepy during the procedure.

Day of Procedure
During the Procedure

During the Procedure

During the Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) procedure, we focus on replacing the natural lens of the patient's eye with a synthetic intraocular lens that will  correct the individual's vision issues. Generally conducted as an outpatient surgery, the operation is minimally invasive but requires a high level of precision.

After providing the patient with local anesthesia to numb the eye area,  Dr. Kraff will then proceed through a series of carefully orchestrated steps:

  • A small incision is made in the cornea that will allow access to the lens;
  • The natural lens is then fragmented using ultrasound technology or laser techniques;
  • These lens fragments are carefully removed;
  • An artificial intraocular lens is inserted in place of the natural lens;
  • Finally, the incision is sealed, often without the need for stitches due to its small size.

The entire procedure typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes per eye.


Following your procedure, you'll 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. Most patients 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.

You may experience temporary side effects as you recover from your surgery:

  • Blurred or hazy vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Glare or halos
  • Red eyes
  • Watery eyes
nearsightedness myopia
nearsightedness myopia

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 types of intraocular lens 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'll achieve your desired vision following the procedure. This type of lens is most often used during cataract surgery, but can also be used for individuals during refractive lens exchange.

Toric Lenses

If a patient's cornea, the clear front part of the eye, 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's now possible to correct that astigmatism with a Toric lens. This premium lens can be 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 allows a patient to have the advantage of quality vision at both distance and near. Multifocal lenses work by using diffraction rings on the lens that optically split incoming light into distance and near.

nearsightedness myopia
nearsightedness myopia

Monovision IOL

Monovision lenses correct a patient's dominant eye for distance while leaving the non-dominant eye slightly undercorrected so the patient retains 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'd 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.

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What Is the Success Rate of Refractive Lens Exchange?

Patients who choose to undergo refractive lens exchange can significantly reduce their dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses. RLE can be an option for individuals who are unable to, or don't qualify for a laser-based vision correction procedure.

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.

The success rate for Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is generally high, and about 95% of people are happy with their vision after surgery.

nearsightedness myopia
nearsightedness myopia

Risks & Complications

While RLE is generally considered safe and effective, it carries some risks like any surgical procedure.

  • Retinal detachment
  • Glaucoma
  • Infection
  • Residual refractive errors
  • Posterior capsule opacification
  • Recovery discomfort

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 patient is unique, from their eyes to their lifestyles and goals. This is why we offer personalized options to meet your vision needs. As a leader in the industry, Dr. Kraff is one of the most reputable and skilled surgeons you will find. He's known for delivering exceptional results while maintaining the highest levels of safety.

Dr. Kraff has built his reputation on providing the most up-to-date and advanced technology available to his patients. As a result, patients achieve an extraordinary level of success. In addition, our staff is dedicated to providing a comfortable, attentive environment for our patients. Dr. Kraff will guide you through the process of refractive surgery and assist you in making a well-informed decision regarding the lensectomy procedure.

nearsightedness myopia
LASIK Cost in Chicago

What Is the Average 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 will vary depending on the level of refractive error, and the type of lens required to treat your eyes.

Lens replacement surgery generally carries a higher price tag compared to LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures, the cost is typically at around $4,000 per eye. A RLE procedure is considered an elective procedure which means that most insurance companies won't cover the cost. If this seems financially daunting, don't worry — you may have options. Consider exploring if your employer provides a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). There are also financing options available that can make the procedure more accessible.

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, and then pay for it conveniently with low monthly payments.

About Your Refractive Lens Exchange Doctor

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

Schedule Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery Consultation

Take the first step toward a life with clearer vision! Schedule your consultation with us today to explore your options and tailored solutions.

312-757-7335Schedule Consultation
Schedule Consultation

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. Before surgery, you'll receive numbing drops along with a local anesthetic.

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 typically does not need to be removed.

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.

How long does a lens replacement procedure take?

Expand F.A.Q.

The duration of lens replacement surgery itself is typically short, often completed within 20 to 30 minutes per eye.

What is the age limit for lens replacement surgery?

Expand F.A.Q.

There's no strict age limit for lens replacement surgery, but it's most commonly recommended for individuals over 40. Candidates should have a stable prescription and first undergo a thorough evaluation by an ophthalmologist to make sure the procedure is a safe and suitable option.