What is Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) involves the removal of the clear lens of your eye, replacing it with an intraocular lens implant (IOL) in order to restore vision and reduce the need for glasses and/or contact lenses.

This treatment is recommended for those who are better candidates for Lens based surgery (i.e. RLE) as opposed to corneal based laser vision correction (i.e. LASIK or PRK). Due to the fact that we offer all refractive error correction options, we have solutions which can’t be found elsewhere. Currently, we are the only facility offering this treatment in Newfoundland and Labrador.


We offer a full range of vision correction treatments, with a variety of options designed for different conditions and lifestyles. RLE can be used to correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), early lens opacities, and, when special lenses are used, astigmatism and presbyopia (or the need for reading glasses).

Laser assisted LENS surgery with Catalys Laser

The doctor can create a blueprint of your unique eye, ensuring each step is performed with accuracy and precision.

  • Personalized: Planned specifically for your unique eye
  • Precise: Aligned precisely and delivered accurately
  • Informative: Imaging shows your doctor what needs to happen inside your eye
  • Comfortable: Easy preparation and procedure
  • Fast: Each step delivered in a matter of seconds
  • Gentle: Minimal inflammation

Benefits of Laser Assisted RLE Surgery

  • Most technologically advanced option resulting in a safer, more gentle and precise procedure
  • Provides greater customization so vision can be fine-tuned
  • Laser corneal arcuate incisions are placed to enhance the shape of the eye to reduce astigmatism
  • Incisions are blade free, reducing the risk of infection
  • Creates an incision more precise, which can enhance the quality of vision
  • Produces high resolution, digital images of the eye in real-time enhancing the accuracy of the procedure
  • Better quality vision, colours are brighter and images sharper
  • Easier to read, work, drive and play sports

Procedure Steps

Team Process (Prior to Surgery)

  1. Meet with team to collect patient information and discuss options
  2. Complete diagnostics to determine your unique lens
  3. Patient education to explain the different steps and provide necessary information
  4. Confirm surgery and recommend your best option

Surgical Process

  1. Patient education to discuss the surgical steps and answer any further questions
  2. Access – Laser performed. To reach your lens, your doctor uses the laser to make a few very small incisions
  3. Removal – The lens is then delicately broken up with the laser and removed in microscopic sections
  4. Replacement – After the old lens is removed, it is replaced with a new Advanced Technology Intraocular Lens (ATIOL) so you can see clearly
  5. Dr. Jackman and his team will guide you through the whole process to make it as easy and as comfortable as possible.


Is Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) covered by insurance?

Every insurance company and plan are different, so it is always safest to check with your insurance company.  Typically, RLE is not covered by insurance, but this will vary with providers.

Is RLE covered by provincial health Care Insurance, like MCP?

RLE is not covered by provincial Health Care insurance plans, like MCP.  It is considered elective and not medically necessary.  It is treated the same as Laser Vision Correction procedures like LASIK.

Is RLE permanent?

The good news is RLE is permanent and will last for the rest of your life. Your vision improvement will not decrease over time as there is a new lens inside your eye which will not change or degrade over time.

Do I have to be awake for the procedure?

Yes, you are awake during the procedure. If you would like some mild sedative, then this will be offered to you. Dr. Jackman and his team will guide you through the whole process to make it as easy and as comfortable as possible.  It is very quick and will be over before you know it.

Are there any risks involved with RLE?

Like any surgery, there are always risks.  However, we are very fortunate to have excellent technology and experience to minimize these risks as much as we possibly can.  We will review the very rare risks that are possible with you on your consultation with us.

Are there blades involved in RLE?

No.  We only offer LASER Assisted Lens Surgery for our RLE patients at LENS & LASIK, and thus our surgery is Bladeless.  We feel that you only deserve the best and we want to ensure your best possible outcome.

Will LASER Assisted Lens Surgery hurt?

No. It will not hurt. Any surgery on the eye is ‘weird’ and this is the best way to describe it. It is very quick, which makes it much easier for you. There are no needles, no stitches and no patches on the eye afterwards to make you as comfortable as possible.

How long will the surgery last? Is it guaranteed to work?

The surgery will last forever, meaning for the rest of your life. Your vision improvement will not decrease over time as there is a new lens inside your eye which will not change or degrade over time. Unfortunately, like with any medical procedure, there is no guarantee on the outcome, but we do guarantee that we will do whatever we can to give you the best possible outcomes. Dr. Jackman always says we only like “Happy Patients” and we will always strive to give you the best outcome.

How is LASER Assisted Lens Surgery different than LASIK?

LASER Assisted Lens Surgery uses is a laser help remove the LENS of the eye, i.e. surgery inside the eye, as opposed to LASIK, which is a corneal based surgery, on the surface of the eye.

What conditions benefit most from LASER Assisted Lens Surgery?

LASER Assisted Lens Surgery will benefit all patients who are looking for the most accurate and best possible outcomes with their lens based procedure. It is especially important when using Advanced Technology Intraocular Lenses (ATIOLs) and for patients with astigmatism.

Will my vision be perfect after RLE?

That is always our goal! We truly want patients to be doing, and seeing, as well as they possibly can after their surgery. We constantly strive for excellence and we want you seeing the best you can possibly see. There are many things which can affect one’s vision, and we strive to ensure patients get the best result for their particular eyes.