Advancements in cataract surgery have led to new technology in lens replacement surgery. As a result, clear lens exchange (CLE) is very similar to cataract surgery, but has multiple benefits that extend well beyond. Clear Lens Exchange is a vision correction surgical procedure intended to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contacts for people over the age of 40. CLE may be a better procedure for someone who is considering LASIK, but might be over the age of 40 years old.

For individuals over 40 who are considering refractive surgery to decrease dependence on glasses and contact lenses, clear lens exchange (CLE) is an excellent option worthy of serious consideration. Like cataract surgery, this procedure involves removing the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant, a multifocal IOL implant, a phakic IOL, or an accommodating IOL.

Exchange the Natural Lens

In CLE the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with a silicone or plastic intraocular lens (IOL). The replacement IOL is of a power to correct most, if not all, of the patient’s hyperopia or myopia. CLE alone is not very successful at correcting astigmatism. To correct astigmatism, conventional or custom wavefront Lasik, PRK, LASEK, or Epi-Lasik may be required in addition to CLE.

Advantages of CLE

There are several advantages to CLE over other forms of refractive surgery. Some of the most obvious are that the surgery has years of successful history and the cornea is relatively untouched. If you have a thin cornea, dry eyes, or other minor cornea problems, CLE may be a better alternative. CLE may be the only option for people with high refractive error. Also, if the exact desired refractive change is not achieved, the IOL may be exchanged for one of a different power, or a cornea-based refractive surgery technique such as conventional or custom wavefront Lasik, PRK, LASEK, or Epi-Lasik may be used in combination with CLE to “fine tune” the correction. Because CLE removes the natural lens, there is no possibility of developing a cataract in the future.

Disadvantages of CLE

A big disadvantage with CLE is that it is a significantly more invasive surgery than any cornea-based refractive surgery or even phakic IOLs.  An extremely myopic patient would have an elevated risk of vitreous or retina problems after CLE.

If you have accommodation, you will lose some or all accommodation. If you are already fully presbyopic and need powerful reading glasses or bifocals, the reduction of accommodation with CLE may not be a problem because you already have a very limited range of accommodation.