Cataract and Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery

by | Dec 18, 2017 |

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and vision becomes blurred and susceptible to glare. This usually happens gradually, most often in adult life, and treatment is only required when this reaches a point where it is affecting your everyday activities. Modern cataract surgery is very effective and virtually painless for the majority of patients. It is completed in day surgery under local anaesthetic with little post-operative discomfort.



Suitability for cataract and refractive lens exchange (RLE) surgery is mainly determined through the tests performed during your initial consultation. However, you must be 50 or over for you to be offered RLE as an option of sight correction surgery.


Cataract surgery is a keyhole surgery completed via a 3.5mm valve incision. High-frequency ultrasound energy is used to liquefy the lens in a process called phacoemulsification. The lens material is then washed out and a flexible intraocular cataract lens (IOL) is inserted. This unfolds inside the lens capsule to lie in the natural position, focussing light accurately on the retina. The incision used is self-sealing and does not affect the strength of the eye wall. Alternatively, this procedure can be done using a femtosecond laser to make the initial self-sealing incisions and to partially breakdown the cataract prior to its aspiration and replacement of the lens.  The same surgery is referred to as refractive lens exchange (RLE) when it is applied to reduce spectacle dependence rather than to treat cataracts.


We offer both single vision and multifocal lenses. Both offer excellent image quality and toric versions of each are available for patients with astigmatism.


In conjunction with cataract surgery, limbal relaxing incisions (LRI) are a simple, safe surgical procedure that can be used to reduce astigmatism. We also offer YAG capsulotomy to treat Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO).


Visual recovery is rapid and you should expect to see well within two days of your surgery.

We advise the following aftercare following treatment:

  • You must apply eye drops four times daily
  • We recommend one week off work (this is not obligatory)
  • Avoid dusty environments for one week to avoid irritating the eyes
  • Refrain from swimming for one week
  • Do not wear eye make-up for one week
  • Only return to driving when you can read a number plate from 70ft and then exercise caution until you feel confident.
  • Flying is permissible from the following day.

Please note that RLE patients, and those previously dependent on distance glasses, will have difficulty obtaining balanced vision in the week between having each eye operated on. We advise wearing a contact lens in the un-operated eye or leaving one eye blurred during this time, after which balanced vision typically returns swiftly and you can usually return to work on the following Monday.

Detailed advice on aftercare will be made available to you following surgery and, if you are in any doubt, your vision can be checked on the Monday after surgery to check it is at driving standard.

Contact Details

Moorfields Private Outpatients Centre
9-11 Bath Street

King Edward VII Hospital
5-10 Beaumont St, Marylebone, London

T:0207 566 2603
M:07831 919 634

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