Lens surgery FAQs

Often, people who aren’t suitable for laser eye surgery might opt for lens surgery instead. This could be because you have thin corneas or due to your prescription. Lens surgery includes both Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) and Implantable Contact Lens (ICL) and is growing in popularity with new artificial lenses being brought to the market all the time. Read on to discover the answers to people’s most common lens surgery questions.

The surgery itself usually takes between 10 to 15 minutes, although you should prepare to be in the treatment room for up to half an hour, and in the clinic on the day for up to four hours.
The process of RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange) treatment is the same as the method for cataract treatment. The ageing natural lens is removed and is then replaced with either a monofocal or multifocal lens. With ICL (Implantable Contact Lens) procedures, the natural lens remains inside the eye, and an artificial lens is implanted in front of it. As the natural lens isn’t removed for ICL treatment, the procedure is entirely reversible.
The lenses do not break down inside the eye – they’re made to last for around a hundred years – so deterioration isn’t something you need to worry about.
Your vision is likely to be a little blurry for 2-3 days following the procedure, and will gradually improve over the coming weeks. It depends on your line of work, however most people can go back to work after a couple of days. Some patients need up to a week off, but it depends on your individual recovery process.
Again, this depends on how quickly your eyes heal. This can be a matter of a couple of days, or a couple of weeks. As you’ll be coming back in to the clinic for aftercare and follow-up appointments, the optometrist should confirm then when you are back to driving standard.
We recommend avoiding rigorous exercise for one month following the procedure. This is because it can increase the eye pressure and affect the healing process. You should avoid water sports for a month as water carries bacteria and could trigger an infection in your eye. Similarly, you should protect your eyes from sweat by wearing a headband during sports activities for at least two weeks. Full details of resuming sports can be found in your aftercare advice guide given to you by your clinic.
You might experience an increase in halos or glare at night following the procedure. It is caused by light reflecting off the rim of the lens, so as your pupils become larger in the dark, the reflections become more obvious. This reaction to glare should gradually decrease with time. However, it may remain for some time for some patients, especially those with large pupils.
For ICL treatment, we like our patients to be between the ages of 21 and 40. Patients younger than 21 often have eyes which are still developing and changing, and a stable prescription is needed to ensure that the right lens is being implanted. After the age of 40, patients often develop the need for reading glasses, and in that case may be more suitable for RLE treatment. There is no upper age limit for RLE, especially as it is also used to treat cataracts which typically begin to affect people later in life.
If you wish to eliminate the need for reading glasses, you should consider RLE with multifocal lenses. These will allow you to focus your eyes on objects at multiple distances, regaining younger vision and improving near vision for tasks such as computer use or reading.
We can perform bilateral procedures (both eyes treated on the same day, one after the other) but this will need to be discussed with your treating surgeon. If you prefer, you can also have your eyes treated separately, a week apart, diary permitting.
It always depends on the individual and the condition of the eyes. ICL surgery is possible for patients who have Keratoconus but for most, treatment to help control the Keratoconus is required first unless the condition is stable and has been for many years. We offer CCL (Corneal Cross-Linking) treatment to help strengthen the cornea and prevent further progression of the Keratoconus. After successful treatment, ICL surgery can then be considered.
We offer monovision treatments whereby we treat only one eye. One eye will be short-sighted, and the other long-sighted, allowing them to work together and balance each other out, ultimately eliminating the need for reading glasses. We also offer multifocal lenses which focus on multiple distances, allowing you to see objects both close up and far away.
No, you will receive a local anaesthetic for the procedure in the form of numbing eye drops. This is because when you sleep your eyes roll back, meaning that the surgeon cannot access the cornea. You can, however, be prescribed a mild sedative from your GP prior to the surgery, to ensure a more relaxing experience for you.
In the immediate period after treatment, you should keep lighting low and avoid anything requiring visual concentration, including TV, reading and computer use.
You should avoid water splashing in to the eyes for 7 days after treatment. When showering you should stand with your back to the shower, taking a step further forward than usual and ensuring any liquids are rinsed away from face and eyes.


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