Presbyopia is the condition that forces us to use reading glasses as we age. It is caused by the natural lens losing its flexibility as it grows throughout our lives.
The natural lens changes shape as you look at close objects, providing near vision. It is flexible in youth, much like a tire that is only filled with a small amount of air. This flexibility decreases as the lens fills with more material, similarly to the tire hardening as it is inflated. Our ability to focus at near starts to diminish in our mid-forties as the lens slowly hardens – a term called presbyopia.
Individuals who suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or presbyopia – even if they do not have cataracts – can take advantage of a procedure that is identical to cataract surgery. Refractive Lens Exchange or Clear Lens Extraction (CLE) is ideal for patients in their late 40s and beyond, or for those younger individuals who need to wear reading glasses. The natural lens – which no longer can focus for reading – is replaced with an intraocular lens implant (IOL) that can permanently restore your vision. This outpatient procedure takes about 10 minutes to perform per eye, requires only eye drops as an anesthetic, and has a quick recovery.
Depending on the type of IOL you choose, Refractive Lens Exchange surgery can provide freedom from glasses at all ranges! Whether you choose multifocal implants to improve distance, intermediate, and near, monovision to allow one eye to see far and one to see close, or single vision for distance or near, the IOL is selected to correct your individual prescription needs.
Once the IOL is in place, the focus it provides does not degrade over time. Additionally, unlike the natural lens, the IOL will not cloud up over your lifetime, so once you have a refractive lens exchange procedure, you will never develop cataracts or need to repeat this surgery!
At SightTrust Eye Institute, we offer our patients the option of treating both eyes on the same day, rather than one at a time. This provides a shorter healing time and quicker visual recovery, allowing you to see the best you can the soonest possible!