Refractive lensectomy, also called refractive lens exchange, corrects nearsightedness or farsightedness by replacing the eye’s natural lens, which has the wrong power, with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) implant that has the correct power for the eye. The procedure uses the same techniques of modern cataract surgery. The main difference is that cataract surgery is primarily performed to remove a cataract that’s obstructing vision, while refractive lensectomy is performed to reduce your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. You may be a good candidate for the procedure if you have no other health issues affecting your eyes or you’re not a good candidate for laser vision correction.
What to Expect
The refractive lensectomy procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. Only one eye will be treated at a time. After the eye is completely numbed with topical or local anesthesia, the eye’s natural lens will be gently vacuumed out through a tiny incision, less than one eighth of an inch wide.
Next, the new, intraocular lens will be folded and inserted through the same micro-incision. It will then be unfolded and placed into the “capsular bag” that originally surrounded the natural lens. The incision is “self-healing” and usually requires no stitches — it heals fast and provides a much more comfortable recuperation. The whole procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes.
You will go home soon after the surgery and most patients return to their normal activities within a day or two. The goal of the procedure is to reduce or eliminate your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. Though some patients report an improvement in their vision almost immediately, results vary by patient.
How to prepare
You may be instructed to stop wearing your contact lenses weeks before surgery; how in advance depends on whether you wear soft or hard lenses. The doctor may advise patients to stop taking any medication that could increase bleeding during surgery. Antibiotic drops may be given one to two days prior as well, and patients may be advised to not eat or drink for 12 hours before the surgery. Patients will also need to make arrangements for a ride home as well as assistance for the 24 hours following the surgery.