By now, you may have heard of the wonders of cataract surgery and how amazing new technologically-advanced intraocular lenses can correct vision so that glasses are often not needed. If you rely heavily on glasses or contact lenses to see, and would like to get rid of them, you may be considering one of these presbyopia-correcting lenses for yourself. But what if you do not have cataracts yet? Can you still receive one of these lenses? The answer is yes. The procedure is essentially the same as cataract surgery, but we call it Clear Lens Exchange (CLE), also known as Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), since the clear natural lens of the eye (which has not yet developed into a cataract) is being exchanged for a technologically-advanced lens.
If you are considering CLE, you should be aware of some differences from cataract surgery. In general, health insurance covers medical problems (such as cataracts) and will not cover CLE, so you would have to bear the cost of surgery; patient financing is available to those who qualify. Also, use of presbyopia-correcting IOLs in CLE is off-label, since these IOLs are FDA-approved only for cataract surgery; off-label use of products is very common in the practice of medicine. There is otherwise no difference between CLE and cataract surgery.
So you do not have to wait until you develop cataracts to gain the advantages of presbyopia-correcting lenses such as the ReSTOR, Tecnis multifocal, and Tecnis Symfony lens. An evaluation at Sierra Nevada Eye Center will determine whether CLE is right for you.