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A View on Your Options: iLasik vs Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery

Posted on June 12, 2022

It’s hard to imagine a life without vision. But for some, it comes at a steep cost.

Glasses are uncomfortable. They make your nose sore, fog up in cold weather, and can shatter from a short drop. And it doesn’t help that they aren’t cheap.

Contact lenses are only marginally better. They risk severe eye infections, dry eye, and can get stuck behind your eyelids. And they’re even more expensive than glasses.

It might be time to consider vision correction surgery: LASIK or refractive lens exchange surgery (RLE). These wonderful procedures make it seem like you were born with good vision.

But which one should you get? Today, you’ll learn the difference between LASIK and RLE.

What Is LASIK?

LASIK is a vision correction surgery that uses a laser to correct your vision.

To do this, the doctor cuts a flap in your cornea. They then open the flap and use a high-precision laser to reshape your corneal tissue. After this is done, they replace the flap, which seals itself to your eye with suction.

The doctor can perform the LASIK procedure in just a few minutes. This is a painless procedure as well.

Recovery Time

Recovery time is quick. You will need to take drop medication and avoid rubbing your eyes for a few weeks. However, LASIK gives you perfect vision in just a few days or weeks.

Who Should Get LASIK?

If you have farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism, LASIK may be for you. LASIK is preferable for those who do not need extreme vision correction. You should be an adult, but refractive lens surgery is preferable if you are over the age of 40.

Most people can get LASIK. However, a thin corneal lens or other regressive eye conditions like presbyopia may disqualify you. If you’re unsure, take this quiz to determine if you’re the right candidate for LASIK.

Surgery Risks of LASIK

LASIK is an amazing surgery that can give lifelong vision to most patients. However, it does come with some caveats.

You may have very dry eyes for the rest of your life, requiring regular eye drops. The flap in your corneas is permanent, which means it can come loose due to extreme physical trauma. Your night vision may also not be the best.

Further, you may experience more acute eye fatigue. After a long day of focusing, you may experience a slight double image.

What Is Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery?

Refractive lens surgery is an entirely different vision correction surgery. Instead of reshaping the corneas, RLE implants an ocular lens to improve vision.

You have a natural, crystalline lens behind your iris that allows your eye to focus. In RLE, the surgery removes this lens and replaces it with an artificial lens.

Unfortunately, the doctor cannot do both eyes in the same day. They will correct one eye; then you will return in a few weeks to correct the second eye.

Recovery Time

Recovery time is relatively quick, although lengthier than LASIK. As mentioned above, you will need to go in for surgery twice. One eye may have corrected vision while the other does not for this period.

Who Should Get Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery?

RLE is a great alternative for those who are not a candidate for LASIK. In most cases, this is due to age. If you are 40 years or older, RLE is likely the solution for you.

RLE works for those who have more extreme vision issues. If your doctor disqualifies you for LASIK, the next best thing is RLE.

Surgery Risks of Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery

Since RLE is implanting an artificial lens, this lens may only give you far-sighted focus. You do have the option for a bifocal or multifocal lens, though. If not, you will have to use reading glasses to focus on near objects.

RLE does come with the risk of a lens that is out of position. There is also an increased risk of glaucoma.


The most important difference between these two kinds of vision correction surgery is age. Unless you have a serious eyesight condition, anyone below the age of 40 should get LASIK.

However, if you’re not a candidate for LASIK, you should get RLE even if you are under 40. Both surgeries are for adults, so children should use glasses and contacts and consider these surgeries at a later time.


LASIK cost is, in most cases, less than RLE. RLE is a lengthier procedure that requires multiple visits. Your insurance provider may cover one or both of these surgeries, depending on your plan.

Recovery Time

LASIK recovery is much faster than RLE. The doctor will fix both eyes in the same visit. You will get perfect vision within a few days or weeks.

RLE, on the other hand, requires two separate visits that are weeks apart. Between visits, your vision will be incomplete.

Future Vision Correction Surgery

LASIK is not a permanent surgery. Your visual acuity may decline with age. You may have to return to the doctor to correct your vision again.

Refractive lens exchange is a permanent operation. Not only does it give you permanently corrected vision, it means you won’t need to worry about cataracts later down the line.

Correct Your Vision Today

It’s time to get the high-quality vision you deserve. LASIK and refractive lens exchange surgery are two excellent options that will work, whatever your situation. You’ll have good vision without eye correction, and you’ll save on those glasses/contact prescriptions for years to come.

Make sure you get your vision correction surgery from the best in the business. Get in contact with an eye doctor who cares.

"Quick, comfortable and super easy!"

Eye LASIK Austin

6500 N. Mopac • Building 2, Suite 2101 • Austin, TX 78731

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