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Refractive Lens Exchange in Chicago, IL

The Kraff Eye Institute is Chicago’s leading practice specializing in Refractive Lens Exchange surgeries. This procedure, also known as RLE or eye lens replacement surgery, is a safe and effective treatment for patients who have high levels of myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism.

Because structural characteristics of the cornea can sometimes disqualify someone from being a good candidate for LASIK or PRK, an RLE is a great alternative option for some patients to lessen their dependence on glasses or contact lenses. Dr. Colman Kraff has been at the forefront of RLE procedures since its inception. With decades of experience, you will not find a better surgeon to entrust your vision to.

What is a Refractive Lens Exchange?

A Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), Clear Lens Exchange/Replacement, or Refractive Lensectomy, may be an alternative option for a patient that doesn’t qualify for a laser- based procedure, but still wants to be less dependent on glasses or contact lenses. With LASER vision correction surgery, a surgeon uses a LASER to remove a microscopic amount of tissue from the cornea which helps to refocus the light on the retina. With a RLE procedure, a surgeon is making a small, self-healing, incision, around 3mm or less, into the patient’s eye and removes the patient’s natural crystalline lens. The natural lens sits behind the colored part of the eye known as the iris.  

Once the crystalline lens is removed, the surgeon will then insert an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The IOL that is implanted where your natural lens once sat has a prescription to it, thereby helping to reduce your need for corrective lenses. The power of the IOL is customized to the need of the power of your individual eye to correct your vision. A RLE can treat patients who have high levels of myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia. 

When you need RLE

A Refractive Lens Exchange can help patients who have:

  • High levels of myopia
  • High levels of hyperopia
  • High levels of astigmatism

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

An RLE procedure is performed one eye at a time, with the 2nd eye being treated a couple of weeks after the 1st.

The surgery is done at an outpatient surgery center and the patient is under local anesthesia during the procedure. You should plan on being at the surgery center for a couple of hours and you will need someone with you to help get you home. Many patients resume their normal activities within a couple of days following the procedure.

As the patient continues to heal, and they adapt to the new IOL, the quality of the vision will continue to improve. Because the IOL is replacing the patient’s natural lens, the patient cannot develop a cataract later in life. Depending on a patient’s age, the patient may find that their near vision is affected by having an RLE procedure and should discuss that with their surgeon.

Types Of IOLs

When you are here for your consultation, Dr. Kraff will discuss which IOL he recommends based on your specific type of refractive error. Dr. Kraff tailors the type of lens to the patient’s individual needs.

Reviews For Refractive Lens Exchange Services At Kraff Eye, Chicago


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All surgical procedures come with potential risks. Although very rare, risks include but are not limited to, infection, retinal detachment, double vision, sensitivity to glares and halos, and lens dislocation. When here for your initial consultation, Dr. Kraff will discuss risks, in detail, with the patient to help so that they can make an educated decision as to whether they should move forward with surgery.


The exact cost of the procedure will depend on which IOL Dr. Kraff recommends. The cost of the lens varies depending on what refractive errors the lens will be treating. An RLE procedure is an elective procedure and therefore insurance does not cover the cost. Financing options are available.

Financial Options

Kraff Eye Institute has researched the best credit options and is proud to announce a partnership with CareCredit, America’s top patient payment program. CareCredit allows you to start your vision care procedures at once – then pay for it at your convenience with low monthly payments that are easy to fit in your monthly budget.

Please call our office at (312) 444-1111 for more details.

About Your Doctor

Specializing In Refractive Eye Surgeries For Over 25 Years

Dr. Colman Kraff has been at the forefront of LASER eye surgery since the beginning. Having personally performed over 70,000 LASER procedures, he is one of the most reputable and skilled surgeons anywhere.

Dr. Kraff works closely with industry manufactures as a principle investigator and consultant. As a result, he actively participates in the most recent FDA trials to ensure the best and most precise technology is available to patients.

Dr. Kraff was born and raised in Chicago. He enjoys running and photography, as well as, spending time with his wife, children, and granddaughter.

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Surgery FAQ

Who is a good candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)?

Expand F.A.Q.

If you’ve been told before that you aren’t a good candidate for LASIK or PRK, due to the level of your refractive error or the thickness of your cornea, then a refractive lens exchange may be an option. The best way to determine if you would qualify for a RLE is to come into our office for a no cost, no obligation consultation.

Cost of refractive lens exchange

Expand F.A.Q.

The cost of an RLE is dependent on the exact lens that is picked based on your specific visual needs and expected outcome. When here for a consultation, Dr. Kraff will go over with you what the exact cost of your treatment would be.

Is refractive lens exchange covered by insurance?

Expand F.A.Q.

An RLE is considered an elective procedure and is therefore not covered by insurance.

Refractive lens exchange vs LASIK: what is the best for me?

Expand F.A.Q.

With a LASIK procedure, Dr. Kraff is using a laser to remove a microscope amount of tissue from the cornea. By removing tissue, the light refocuses on the retina and thereby corrects a patient’s vision. With a Refractive Lens Exchange, Dr. Kraff is removing a patient’s natural crystalline lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The IOL is customized to the need of the power of a patient’s individual eye.

Schedule Consultation

To schedule a complimentary LASIK consultation, please click Schedule LASIK Consultation. To inquire about other services, please fill out the form below and we will reach out to you.Please check with your insurance provider to see if our doctors are in your network.

Request a Consultation 312-444-1111
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