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Lens surgery

Lens surgery

There are 2 main types of lens surgery: phakic intraocular lens (PIOL) surgery and refractive lens exchange (RLE).


Phakic intraocular lens implantation (PIOL)

With PIOL artificial lenses are placed in your eyes without removing your own natural lenses. It’s a bit like building contact lenses into your eyes.

Because the lens is inside your eye, you can do things you couldn’t normally do in contact lenses, such as swimming or water sports.

Who is it suitable for? PIOL can be a good option for younger people who aren’t able to have eye laser surgery, perhaps because they have a high eye prescription or a high degree of astigmatism. Later in life, RLE may be a better alternative.

*What does PIOL involve? * The surgeon makes a small cut in the surface of your eye and slips the news lens in through this. No stitches are needed.

Are there any risks?
Your surgeon will discuss any side effects and risks with you before you go ahead with surgery.

It’s normal to get some disturbance in your vision after PIOL but this should gradually settle down. Glare from oncoming headlights while driving at night is common to begin with.

The surface of your eye may feel uncomfortable for a while. You may also have red blotches on the white of your eye for few weeks.

Serious complications are rare and, if you do have any problems after surgery, they can usually be corrected. Cataracts (when the lenses in the eyes become cloudy) may develop earlier in life after PIOL.


Refractive lens exchange (RLE)

RLE is basically the same as cataract surgery. The natural lens in your eye is removed and replaced with a new, artificial one.

Who is it suitable for?
RLE may be a good option if you are older and you aren’t suitable for laser eye surgery, perhaps because you have a high eye prescription or have the beginnings of cataracts.


What does RLE involve?
There are two different types of artificial lens used for RLE: monofocal and multifocal.

• Monofocal – these improve your distance sight but you will still need to wear glasses for near work.
• Multifocal – these offer clear distance, middle and near vision, but about 1% of people find they can’t get used to them and opt for another lens exchange operation.


Are there any risks? Most people have some visual side effects and discomfort in the weeks or months after surgery but these should gradually settle down.


Serious complications are more common after RLE than after laser eye surgery or PIOL surgery. About 1 in 500 patients have significant loss of vision after RLE.


Your surgeon can tell you more about the risks before you go ahead with surgery.


Surgery to improve your eyesight is known as “refractive surgery” or “vision correction”. There are two different types: laser eye surgery and lens surgery.

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