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Refractive lens replacement surgery (lens exchange surgery)

Refractive lens replacement surgery can eliminate your need for glasses and contact lenses 

Patient undergoing refractive lens replacement surgery procedure
Refractive lens replacement surgery is a commonly performed type of eye surgery that involves replacing the natural lens inside your eye with a synthetic implant called an intraocular lens implant.

The lens on the inside of your eye is a small transparent disc behind your iris. It helps you focus light or an image onto your retina, allowing you to see clearly. An intraocular lens works in the same way as your natural lens. As light rays enter your eye, the intraocular lens bends (refracts) the light rays to help you see clearly.

The main benefit of refractive lens replacement surgery is that it eliminates your need for glasses or contact lenses. A lens implant can have a prescription, just like contact lenses or eyeglasses.

At Circle Health Group, we have a network of ophthalmic consultants ready to perform your refractive lens replacement surgery. To find out more about the procedure, you can call a friendly member of our advisory team on 0141 300 5009 or book an appointment with one of our consultants online.

You might need refractive lens replacement surgery if you have:

  • Short-sightedness (when you can't see things clearly until they are close)
  • Long-sightedness (when you can't see things clearly until they are further away)
  • Astigmatism (when either the front surface of your eye or the lines inside has a mismatched curved shape like a rugby ball, which can cause blurred vision)
  • Presbyopia (the gradual loss of your eyes' ability to focus on nearby objects)

These eye problems can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Vision loss
  • Double vision
  • Regular headaches
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seeing halos surrounding lights
  • The need to regularly change your prescription

Your eye surgeon will be able to diagnose your eye problem and determine whether refractive lens surgery is the right treatment for you. In many cases, these eye problems can be treated effectively with treatment options such as prescription glasses, contact lenses, and eye drops. But if your symptoms persist and your vision continues to deteriorate, surgery might be the best option for you.

Who can benefit from refractive lens replacement surgery?

The procedure is most suitable for people over the age of 50 who have not experienced the benefits of treatment such as glasses and eye drops, although younger people can also have the surgery. Your consultant will provide you with the information you need to understand your suitability for refractive lens replacement surgery.

The cost of refractive lens surgery will depend on factors including why you need the surgery and what type of lenses you need.

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant’s outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over 10 months to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 12.9% APR.

If you have private health insurance, refractive lens replacement surgery might be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

You can usually see an ophthalmic specialist for your initial consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with us. During this initial appointment, your consultant will ask about your general health and your medical history in more detail. They will want to know about any existing medical conditions you have, as well as the symptoms you are experiencing. They will ask how these symptoms impact your everyday life, how often they occur, and whether you have had any treatment for them yet.

In order to assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis of your concern, your consultant will next carry out an examination of your eyes. They might also scan and test your eyes to ensure refractive lens replacement surgery would be the right next step for you.

Your initial consultation is an important and positive step in your journey towards better eye health. It is where we start to get to know you as an individual and begin building a treatment plan bespoke to your needs. To make the most of the initial consultation, you should feel free to talk as openly and honestly as you like about the symptoms you are experiencing, the way they make you feel, and what you're hoping to get from surgery.

Your consultant will give you an understanding of timelines during your initial consultation, after which they will put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together. Once you have agreed to the costs, we can get you booked in to have your surgery at a time that suits you.

There is not a lot you can do to prepare for refractive lens replacement surgery. It is a minor day-case procedure, meaning you will leave hospital on the same day as having it.

Before having the treatment, your consultant will answer any questions you have about the process and your recovery journey. You should be able to take your usual medication, such as eye drops, in the run-up to having surgery, but double check this with your consultant at your initial consultation to be sure. You should also remove any eye makeup before the procedure.

Refractive lens replacement surgery and cataract removal surgery are the same operation performed for different reasons. The surgery is called cataract removal surgery when it is performed to replace your blurred natural lens caused by cataracts with a clear plastic one. Alternatively, it is referred to as refractive lens replacement surgery if it is performed to eliminate your need for glasses and contact lenses if you are longsighted or shortsighted.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts happens when the lens inside your eye develops cloudy patches. It is a common eye condition that often occurs as you get older. Over time, these patches become larger, causing misty vision and eventual blindness (if left untreated). Cataracts removal surgery has a high success rate, helping restore your vision and eliminate distressing symptoms such as sensitivity to light.

The procedure is usually performed under local anaesthetic, meaning you will be awake during it, but the area being operated on (your eye) will be numbed to ensure you do not feel any pain. Refractive lens replacement surgery takes around 20 minutes to perform.

Your ophthalmologist will begin by making a small incision on the side of your cornea. They will then insert a small, specially designed probe into your eye. This will emit ultrasound that breaks up the lens of your eye into small pieces, meaning it can be removed using a suction technique. This method is called phacoemulsification.

After your lens has been removed, your ophthalmologist will usually replace it with an intraocular lens (an artificial lens). You will know which type of lens you will have fitted before your surgery. The type of lens you have fitted will depend on your individual visual needs. For example, whether you are long-sighted or short-sighted.

We offer a range of different lens options, including:

Monofocal lenses

A monofocal intraocular lens aims to reduce the need to wear glasses for distance vision.

Multifocal lenses

A multifocal intraocular lens aims to reduce the dependence on wearing glasses for intermediate and near vision.

Toric lenses

A toric intraocular lens aims to correct astigmatism, as well as near-sightedness and far-sightedness. Astigmatism happens when your eye is slightly curved, meaning light is focused at more than one place in your eye. It can cause blurred vision and sensitivity to light.

Your ophthalmologist will ensure you have the right lens fitted for your visual needs. Before your surgery, you will have an assessment with your ophthalmologist to discuss the following:

  • Your lens preference and visual needs
  • Your expected recovery timeline
  • The benefits of having surgery
  • Whether you will need glasses following surgery

This assessment is there to ensure you feel safe and informed throughout each step of your journey with us.

It does not take long to recover from refractive lens replacement surgery. Most people get back to their usual everyday routine within two to four days.

It is normal to experience itchiness and irritation around your eyes and even some blurred vision during this time. This can be managed with anti-inflammatory eye drops and antibiotics provided by your consultant.

Most people experience a significant improvement in their vision from surgery within 24 hours, but this is unique to you and depends on certain factors, including which lens has been implanted in your eye during the procedure.

Your consultant will offer you a more accurate understanding of how quickly you will experience the benefits of surgery based on your circumstances.

You should be able to return to work within a few days. You should also be able to drive within a few days, but please discuss this with your consultant at your follow-up appointment to ensure it is safe to do so. Your follow-up appointment will usually be within a week after surgery, offering you the chance to ask your consultant any questions about your recovery and for them to gain an understanding of how well you are recovering.

It is important to remember that complications from lens replacement surgery are rare and that there are risks attached to any surgery, not just hip replacement surgery. Most people who have the operation will not experience complications.

Potential complications during any surgical procedure include:

  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Specific complications that can occur during refractive lens replacement surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Retinal detachment
  • Bleeding
  • Severe inflammation

Serious complications as a result of refractive lens surgery are rare. If you have any concerns about these, speak with your consultant. They will be able to discuss their likelihood with you in more detail and put your worries at ease.

Is refractive lens surgery permanent?

Yes, refractive lens surgery is considered a permanent solution to your vision problems because your natural lens is directly replaced with an artificial lens. Unlike the natural lens of your eye, an intraocular lens does not break down and therefore does not need to be replaced.

How long after lens replacement surgery can I drive?

You can usually drive within 48 hours of having surgery, but it is best to check this information with your consultant to ensure you are acting as safely as possible.

How long does it take for your eyes to adjust after lens replacement surgery?

It can take up to two weeks for your eyes to fully adjust to the surgery and experience its full benefit, but this differs for everyone and depends on a variety of circumstances, including which kind of lens was implanted during the procedure. Your consultant will explain your recovery timeline to you in more detail.

Can I take a shower straight after lens replacement surgery?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to shower shortly after surgery, but be careful not to get water or soap in your eyes to avoid any infection.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you want to know more about hip replacement surgery and find out if it's the right treatment for you, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0808 302 9028.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in September 2022. Next review due September 2025.

Why Robert went private for Refractive Lens Exchange surgery

When eye-sight deterioration left Robert wondering if he would be able to continue working, he decided to go private for Refractive Lens Exchange surgery.

Find out how Circle Health Group helped him get back to seeing clearly again.

Book an appointment online

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