Are You a Good Candidate for Clear Lens Exchange (CLE)?

July 18th, 2019
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Clear lens exchange is an excellent alternative for individuals who do not qualify for LASIK vision correction surgery.

There are a number of reasons why some people are not good candidates for LASIK vision correction surgery. Although these patients might fear they’re consigned to having poor vision forever, they will be happy to learn that there are other options available. Most notably, clear lens exchange (CLE), sometimes referred to as refractive lens exchange, is a safe and effective alternative for patients who are not eligible for LASIK.

While they’re aimed at the same outcomes, LASIK and CLE are fairly different procedures. During LASIK, an eye surgeon will use a laser to reshape a patient’s corneal tissue into a  specifically designed pattern. The corneal flap will then be repositioned onto the underlying cornea. Depending on the specifics, this will correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.

Alternatively, CLE procedures replace the eye’s clear natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to correct a refractive error. IOLs sit inside the eye instead of on the surface like contact lenses, so patients cannot see or feel them. This procedure is typically reserved for patients who experience a change in their vision due to the natural aging of the eye.

Although CLE is similar to LASIK insofar as they’re both outpatient procedures that last about 30 minutes and require around one week of recovery, the two operations differ in almost every other way, so it’s important for patients to understand which is better-suited to their needs — and why. You should always consult with an eyecare specialist before making your final decision, but here are some general guidelines for determining whether CLE might be the right procedure for you.

Are You a Candidate for CLE?

Ideal candidates for CLE are patients over the age of 40 who have severe presbyopia — an age-related vision disorder that hardens the eye and negatively affects close-range vision. People with presbyopia will often wear reading glasses or bifocals to compensate for their inability to see objects up close. Since LASIK surgery cannot correct the refractive error that causes presbyopia, CLE is often the best option for these patients.

CLE is also a good option for people with hyperopia — farsightedness that stems from an irregularly-shaped eye. Like with presbyopia, individuals with hyperopia cannot see nearby objects clearly, but have no trouble seeing across longer distances.

Additionally, since the procedure doesn’t compromise corneal integrity, patients under the age of 40 with thin corneas are also good candidates for CLE. Candidates unsure of their corneal thickness can receive a corneal pachymetry test to find out. For reference, an average cornea is usually between 540 and 560 micrometers thick.

Finally, patients prone to developing cataracts should opt for CLE instead of LASIK. Cataracts occur when the protein in an eye’s natural lens clumps together, which can cause the lens to cloud. LASIK surgery cannot stop cataracts from forming, so patients prone to developing cataracts will be burdened with an additional operation after receiving LASIK.

Similarly, CLE is not recommended for people with myopia (nearsightedness), as this condition increases the chance of retinal detachment during CLE. For these patients, LASIK (or another refractive correction procedure) represents a better option.

If you’d like to learn more about CLE or LASIK, get in touch with one of the eyecare specialists at Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas. We will be happy to provide a thorough eye examination and work with you to develop a customized treatment plan to restore your vision. Contact us today for an appointment.

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