How Effective Is Clear Lens Exchange Surgery?

September 27th, 2023
EVP Blog SEP CLE Effectiveness

According to The Vision Council’s December 2021 report, more than 75% of adults in the U.S. rely on some form of vision correction. While LASIK is a popular refractive surgery option, not everyone is a candidate. Clear lens exchange (CLE) may be an option for individuals who don’t qualify for LASIK or PRK yet still want improved vision without relying on corrective lenses.

What Is CLE Surgery?

CLE, also known as refractive lens exchange (RLE), is a simple outpatient procedure that corrects high degrees of refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia. CLE is often an option for individuals who are not candidates for LASIK because they have severe dry eyes, thin corneas, or early-onset cataracts, or are age 40 or older.  

Similar to cataract surgery, an eye surgeon simply replaces the eye’s natural lens with a clear artificial intraocular lens (IOL) made of acrylic, silicon, or plastic. The only difference between the procedures is that in CLE, the lens is replaced before cataracts form. Lens technology varies, with options ranging from monofocal IOLs for single-distance vision, multifocal IOLs for multiple distances, and accommodating IOLs, which work with the eye’s muscles to change focus distances. Toric IOLs are also available for those with astigmatism. 

CLE procedures are typically performed on one eye at a time with each surgery scheduled at least one week apart. Each procedure lasts approximately 20 minutes. The recovery time is typically very short, and most patients experience vision improvement in just 24 hours after surgery and fully heal within four weeks. 

What Is CLE’s Success Rate?

One benefit of CLE is that it’s a highly accurate and effective procedure. Studies show a success rate for CLE, along with a patient satisfaction rate, of approximately 90% to 95%. Success can depend on the individual’s eye health and the type of IOL used. Other benefits of CLE include:

  • It can be used to treat a broad range of conditions.
  • It’s a permanent correction. The IOL is not affected by age, which prevents refractive errors from fluctuating and the need for future enhancement procedures or corrective lenses — unlike with LASIK.
  • Replacing the lens prior to cataract development eliminates the need for future cataract surgery. 

Potential Risks of CLE

As with any surgical procedure, CLE carries potential risks and has limitations. The procedure may not be suitable for individuals with certain preexisting conditions, including corneal disease, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, risk factors for retinal detachment, and ocular inflammatory diseases, due to the potential for poor results and increased complications.

Common, temporary side effects are similar to those in cataract surgery and may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Diplopia (double vision)
  • Glare or halos
  • Droopy eyelids

Rare complications may also occur, the most serious being retinal detachment (RD). Patients with extreme myopia and who are younger than 50 have an increased risk for RD. Other rare complications may include posterior capsular rupture, which is when the membrane that holds the lens ruptures, and posterior capsular opacification, which is when the membrane begins to cloud, rather than the lens. 

Explore Your Options With Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas

Our team of experts is here to help you navigate your vision correction options. We’re ready to serve you and help you achieve clear vision while providing an excellent patient experience. Request an appointment today to learn if you’re a candidate for CLE.