Refractive Lens Exchange

Regain your lifestyle with freedom from wearing glasses through refractive lens exchange surgery on the Gold Coast

Refractive Lens Exchange

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?​

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), also called Lens Replacement or Clear Lens Extraction, is a surgical procedure to correct the focus of your vision.


RLE is a similar procedure to cataract surgery, the most common eye surgery worldwide. The difference is that in RLE, the lens is extracted in its clear state, before the formation of a cataract.


An artificial lens is then implanted to reduce your dependence on, or eliminate the need for your glasses or contact lenses by correcting the following conditions:

Is Refractive Lens Exchange the right choice for me?

This can be addressed by RLE and is a common complaint we hear of in patients in their mid 40s and beyond.


This is called ‘presbyopia’ when the lens in the eye starts hardening, losing its ability to flex to focus up-close.


Patients can have a trifocal intraocular lens implanted into the eyes, to enjoy the freedom of reading the newspaper and seeing their phones at close range again without glasses.

When people think of spectacle freedom, laser refractive surgery (e.g. LASIK / SMILE) usually comes to mind, or they may have read about implantable collamer lenses (ICLs) online.


These options are suitable in many young people, but will only last till their mid 40s, after which patients develop ‘presbyopia’, and will require reading glasses. As they grow older into their 60s, and beyond, the natural lens in the eye will cloud, requiring a cataract extraction, meaning another operation.


Laser refractive surgery can cause dry eyes, may reduce accuracy of cataract surgery when older, and in some cases, prevent the use of some premium intraocular lenses which could otherwise be used for cataract surgery in a virgin, un-lasered eye.

Why have laser refractive surgery now and then have a (second) cataract operation when you’re older?


Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), replaces your natural lens with an intraocular lens which means you will not develop a cataract operation later in life.


RLE also can cover extreme prescriptions which laser refractive surgery cannot.

Once your prescription stabilises for at least a year. We recommend it from your mid to late 20s and beyond.


In young women, we recommend it after your family is complete, as occasionally pregnancy, can cause your prescription to destabilise.

What happens during surgery?

Refractive Lens Exchange surgery is very similar to cataract surgery as it involves the removal and replacement of the natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL).


At your consultation, your surgeon will discuss the different IOL designs available, and, considering your lifestyle, the unique features of your eyes and your visual requirements, will determine which IOL is recommended for you.

Why Choose Eye Specialist Institute?

Our team of Ophthalmologists have extensive experience in successful intraocular lens surgeries, both refractive lens exchange and cataract operations.


Providing an additional layer of security when choosing who to trust with your vision, we also have two vitreoretinal surgeons, Dr Robert Bourke and Dr Lewis Lam, who are additionally trained to operate in the posterior chamber of the eye (vitreous/retina). 


Dr Bourke and Dr Lam’s specialty training means they are highly skilled to definitively address surgery complications such as a dislocated lens, capsular tears, and loose lens fragments which can fall into the back of the eye. These complications are rare but can occur and our team is fully equipped to deal with them.

MBBS, FRANZCO | Our Founder

Refractive, Cataract & Vitreoretinal Surgeon


Refractive, Cataract & Oculoplastics Surgeon


Refractive, Cataract & Vitreoretinal Surgeon


Refractive, Cataract, Glaucoma & Oculoplastic Surgeon

Want freedom from your spectacles?

Make an appointment with one of our Ophthalmologists on the Gold Coast to see if Refractive Lens Exchange will be suitable for you.


Appointments available at our Southport, Varsity Lakes and Coolangatta clinics.

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