Clear Lens | Refractive Lens Exchange

Why would someone want a Clear Lens | Refractive Lens Exchange (CLE | RLE)?

The goal of CLE is to reduce the need for reading glasses, bifocals and contact lenses. The surgery can permanently improve nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism as well as reading difficulties depending on what type of Intraocular Lens (IOL) is placed during surgery.

Clear Lens Exchange | Refractive Lens Exchange at Horizon Eye Care

What is CLE?

The human eye has a lens just like the lens in a camera. The human lens focuses light onto the retina. During a CLE operation, the natural lens is removed from the eye and replaced by an artificial Intraocular Lens Implant (IOL). IOL’s are a permanent replacement for your natural lenses and are designed to last the rest of your life. CLE eliminates the possibility of cataracts developing.

A cataract forms in the eye when the normal human clear lens becomes cloudy. The procedure for CLE is the same as cataract surgery, one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the U.S. The difference is that the lens being replaced is clear as opposed to a cloudy cataract lens, though this procedure may also be done on patients who are in the beginning stages of a cataract prior to meeting insurance requirements for cataract surgery.

Other benefits of CLE include:

  • The implants are permanent and don’t need eventual replacement like a hip or knee
  • Minimal risk of regression (loss of corrective effect or deterioration of vision) over time

Here are a few important facts about CLE:

  • It is an outpatient procedure
  • There is minimal to no pain during the procedure
  • The cost of the procedure varies based on what IOL is used
  • The surgery lasts approximately 25 to 30 minutes per eye
  • Each eye is treated on a separate day (about 2 weeks apart)
  • Recovery time can range from one to several weeks, but the patient is likely to be able to return to work and resume driving within a few days of surgery

Clear Lens Exchange is also known as:

  • Refractive Lens Exchange
  • Lens Replacement Surgery
  • Clear Lens Extraction
  • Refractive Lens Replacement
  • Natural Lens Replacement

Are you a good candidate for Clear Lens Exchange?

  • CLE is typically for people who suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia
  • Candidates may have high amounts of nearsightedness or farsightedness beyond the accepted treatment range for laser eye surgery (i.e. LASIK)
  • Candidates for CLE are typically between the ages of 40 and 65
  • Patients who have had previous cataract surgery are not eligible for the procedure

Tests to determine if you are a good candidate for Clear Lens Exchange

The screening process for CLE is very similar to that of cataract surgery. Your doctor will perform several tests to determine the best corrective IOL lens for you.

Once the pre-operative testing is complete, you and your CLE doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure, and your doctor will answer any questions that you have. Your Horizon Eye Care specialist will explain the procedure step-by-step and review important post-operative instructions.


The day of your CLE procedure, make sure you have a driver to bring you. Surgery is performed using relaxing agents for comfort; you can then go home after about three hours at the facility. Your driver must bring you back to the office within the first 24 hours for a post-operative visit. Initially, you can watch TV and move around your home freely with minimal restrictions. You must take drops multiple times a day. Usually, you’ll be able to return to most normal activities in a short period.

Post-op Activities

Minimal restrictions on exercise and driving that you will discuss with your doctor.


Several drops will be prescribed that will be taken for approximately 4 weeks.

Here's A Video Explaining CLE | RLE

Make an appointment

Horizon Eye Care has been a leader in refractive surgery in the Charlotte area since 1998. Schedule an exam to determine your best treatment. Online, use Horizon Eye Care’s Patient Portal. Or call 704-365-0555 during regular business hours (Monday – Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.).


Joseph M. Biber, MDWilliam A. Branner, III, MD
Joel Kaluzny, MDJoseph H. Krug, Jr., MD
Jonathan S. Minkowski, MDGerald B. Rosen, MD
Hunter S. Stolldorf, MDRoyce R. Syracuse, MD, MBA
Xueyang (Sarah) Wang, MD

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