Lens replacement surgery is normally used to refer to one of three similar types of treatments: Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL) and Cataract Surgery with each having alternative names and acronyms so it can be a little confusing!  Hopefully this article will clear up any confusion and give some clarity on the type of lens replacement surgery that may be suitable for you as well as the costs involved.

Types Of Lens Replacement Surgery

1. Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

In general when people talk about lens replacement surgery they are referring to some type of Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) which is also known as Refractive Lens Replacement, Clear Lens Exchange (CLE) or Clear Lens Surgery. This is a treatment for patients suffering from presbyopia (long-sightedness normally occurring in middle and old age), hyperopia (farsightedness where objects nearby are not seen as clearly as objects in the distance) or those with a considerably thin cornea.

It is commonly used for patients over 40 who don’t qualify for either LASIK or PRK laser eye surgery but are not willing to continue using glasses or use contact lenses. It can also can correct myopia (nearsightedness) but it is not normally recommended when LASIK surgery or Phakic intraocular lens (IOL) can be used.

The procedure involves removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens. As well as removing the need to continue wearing glasses or use contact lenses, the new artificial intraocular lens will also mean that the patient will not suffer from cataracts in the future as a cataract can not form on an artificial lens.

2. Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery involves the same procedure as refractive lens surgery described above except that the lens that is removed is not clear but cloudy due to existence of cataracts. Patients have the same choice of monofocal, multifocal or trifocal lenses (see lens types below) giving them the option to also remove the need for reading glasses as well as correct their cataracts.

3. Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL)

This type of lens surgery involves implanting contact lenses rather than removing and replacing the natural lens which occurs in lens replacement surgery.  This new phakic intraocular lens is placed on top of the natural lens and behind the iris (the exact positioning will depend on the lens chosen). As the natural lens is not removed this procedure can be reversed at a later date.

Average Cost of Lens Replacement Surgery

Depending on the clinic and specific lens replacement technique used you can expect to pay around £3,000 – £4,000 per eye for multi focal lenses (complete our form on the right to get prices for clinics near you). Most clinic’s offer a free initial consultation but some charge between £200 – £300.

Typical Prices Of Lens Replacement Surgery In UK Clinics

Treatment Type  (Prices are per eye) From To
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE / CLE) £2,795 £4,250
Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL / IOL) £2,495 £3,950
Cataract Surgery £2,795 £4,250

Intraocular Lens (IOL) Types

There are three types of intraocular lens which can be can be used as replacements for your eyes’ natural lens and the choice you are offered will depend on your eye condition and what is available at the clinic you select:

  • Monofocal Lenses:  Monofocal lenses will normally only fix issues with distance vision and are used for patients who don’t mind continuing to use glasses for specific tasks such as reading.
  • Multifocal Lenses: The more advanced (and normally more expensive) multifocal lenses can correct long and short-sightedness at the same time and therefore eliminate the need for glasses altogether.
  • Toric Lenses: A toric lens is designed to correct moderate to high corneal astigmatism. It should remove the need for glasses for distance vision but you you will still need reading glasses.
  • Trifocal Lenses. Your chosen clinic may also have trifocal lenses which are designed to give very high resolution images and exceptional contract sensitivity at all light conditions and distances.

All the options should be discussed in your consultation before you decide whether to processed or now and cost can depend on the amount of correction required but several of the larger national clinics now offer fixed prices for all lens types for all patients.

Lens Replacement Surgery Procedure & Recovery

Lens replacement surgery lasts for approximately 15 minutes and is carried out independently for each eye with a normal duration of almost a week between the two eyes. During lens replacement numbing aesthetic drops are applied so no discomfort is experienced in the eyes. Most people will report immediate visual improvement a few days after surgery.

On the path to full recovery patients may experience a few episodes of discomfort such as blurred vision, halos and glare. Most patients can go back to work within a week of the surgery although you may need to wait 2 weeks before driving again – your surgeon will guide you on this.

You will not be able to see an artificial lens within your eye as it is placed on your eye unlike a contact lens. The lenses are meant to last for a lifetime as there is a negligible risk of regression (deteriorating of corrective vision) due factors related to ageing. If problems do arise the lens can be replaced easily without any permanent damage being done.