Refractive lens exchange (RLE), also known as custom lens replacement surgery, is a type of vision correction procedure in which one or both of the natural lenses of the eye are replaced with a focused artificial lens. This intraocular lens (IOL) corrects eye prescription issues such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and is an alternative to waiting for cataract surgery. It’s a precise, 15-minute procedure and most patients notice visual improvements within hours of surgery.
Recover From Refractive Lens Surgery – Steps And Process
As you explore refractive lens exchange surgery options, you may wonder, how long does it take to recover? As in completely healed. Many factors affect the healing process, including patient age and overall health, home environment, and personal habits. While complete healing runs a matter of weeks, most patients experience enhanced vision within hours of the surgery and feel that their vision is clear enough the next day to resume normal activities, such as driving. The process of healing follows the general timeline outlined here:
Day Of Refractive Lens Exchange
The eyes have an amazing capacity for healing, and that process begins immediately after patients leave the practice following refractive lens exchange. In some cases, the patients are seeing better even before they have left the clinic.
Even if you feel your vision is clear enough to drive home or resume strenuous physical activity on the day of your lens implant surgery, it is recommended for the patients to become couch potatoes for the day and take it easy! Reading, using a computer, cooking, or working at a desk are fine and will not hurt your eyes, however, do follow your surgeon’s instructions and use your eye drops. You will have your eye surgeon’s mobile phone number, so feel free to call if you have any additional questions.
After Custom Lens Replacement Surgery
Awakening the morning after RLE surgery is often described by the patients as a miraculous experience. Those who have worn glasses or contacts their whole life will tell that it is surreal to awaken and see their alarm clock across their room or turn to their partner and see their glowing smile without the necessity of glasses or contacts. Those who previously struggled with up-close reading are amazed that they can pick up their cell phone off their nightstand and read a text message, check the news, or send an email.
You will come to the clinic and see the doctor’s smiling faces the next morning as they conduct your one-day follow-up visit. This appointment is usually brief and involves a thumbs-up and a lot of high-fives. After this visit, practically everyone returns to work and resumes normal activities!
Patients may shower, drive, go shopping, go out to eat, work, and perform their usual daily activities at this point. The only exception would be if your work involves one of the following:
• swimming underwater, like if you are a scuba diving instructor
• anything that could cause your neck veins to bulge or your face to turn red, like if you are a piano mover
• anything that would cause a direct impact on the eye, like if you practice martial arts
Patients who have unique or unusual daily activities are welcome to ask their experienced surgeon for guidance. While everyone heals at a different pace, your eye surgeon will monitor your progress closely and provide any needed care.
During the first few weeks, you will continue to take your eye drops. Most patients notice common side effects at this time, including glare and halos around a point source of light (like car headlights at night, particularly in the rain) and dry eyes. These side effects typically improve as the eyes heal.
This is an exciting time when many patients tell that they see things they cannot even remember seeing before. It’s as if they have a new lens on life. You can continue to get more crispness and sharpness in your vision over the first few months. Remember also that it takes time to adapt to your vision, even if it is clearer.
Find here more about reflective lens exchange.
When Can You Lift After RLE Surgery?
It can be tempting for a dedicated gym enthusiast to start pumping iron as soon as humanly possible—fitness fanatics hate to lose progress—but your doctor will want you to avoid the Valsalva maneuver for the first week after lens implant surgery. The Valsalva maneuver involves forceful attempted exhalation against a closed airway and can cause your neck veins to bulge and your face to turn red. This can happen with heavy weightlifting or powerlifting.
Everyday lifting is fine, however, this is a good time to review proper ergonomics. If you are lifting a 3-year-old into the car or picking up several bags of groceries, keep a strong back and lift with your knees. The idea behind avoiding the Valsalva maneuver is to avoid putting pressure on your eye, which could affect healing. So no karate, breakdancing, or strongman competitions until you get the all-clear!
How Much Can You Lift After RLE Surgery?
It depends on you. For the custom lens replacement patients, guidance is to avoid the Valsalva maneuver. A simple guideline is if whatever you are lifting is heavy enough and strenuous enough that your neck veins are bulging or your face is turning red, don’t lift it.
Can You Exercise After Lens Replacement Surgery?
Yes! Most of the patients will walk the dog the next morning before coming in to see the doctors or do their usual elliptical workout. Avoid the Valsalva maneuver.
How Can You Reduce The Risks Of Refractive Lens Exchange?
The most effective way to minimize the risks of any procedure, including custom lens replacement surgery, is to attend all of your follow-up appointments and closely follow your surgeon’s instructions. One of those instructions will be to keep your healing eyes lubricated. Your doctor will show you which eye drops to use. Eye drops to aid in healing, keep you seeing your best, and keep you comfortable in the process.