IOL Choices for RLE Surgery

Key Takeaways Table

RLE SurgeryA procedure to replace the eye’s natural lens with an IOL
IOL TypesMonofocal, Multifocal, Accommodative, Toric
Monofocal IOLsProvide clear vision for a single distance
Multifocal IOLsOffer correction across multiple distances
Toric IOLsCorrect astigmatism for clearer vision
EDOF IOLsExtended depth of focus (field) lenses. Much less or no night vision issues, e.g. glare and haloes
Accommodative IOLsStill in trials. Attempt to recreate the human lens’ natural focusing

Introduction to IOLs in RLE Surgery

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is a transformative procedure where the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This elective surgery, akin to cataract surgery, is designed to correct vision issues and reduce dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses. The choice of IOL plays a pivotal role in the outcome of this surgery, as it is customised to your vision needs.

Types of Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)

The selection of an IOL is a critical step in RLE surgery. The type of lens you choose can significantly impact your vision post-surgery. The main IOL options include:

  • Monofocal IOLs: These lenses are the most basic option, offering clear vision at a single distance – near, intermediate, or far【source】.
  • Multifocal IOLs: These advanced lenses correct multiple distances, though they may have a higher cost and potential for visual disturbances like glare【source】.
  • Toric IOLs: Specifically designed for individuals with astigmatism, these lenses correct this particular refractive error, offering clearer vision at all distances【source】.
  • EDOF IOLs: Extended depth of focus lenses are designed to give excellent distance and intermediate vision. However, reading glasses may be needed and often combined with small monovision to improve near vision – a popular choice of IOL.【source

Each lens has unique characteristics and suitability, depending on your specific vision needs and lifestyle. It is crucial to consult with your ophthalmologist to determine the best option for you.

IOL types in RLE surgery

More patients choosing to have multifocal IOLs and expected to continue an upward trend due to improvements in lens design.

IOL sales growth in RLE

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Understanding Monofocal IOLs

Monofocal IOLs are the most straightforward type of lens used in RLE surgery. They are designed to provide clear vision at one distance– near, intermediate or far.

three vision distances for RLE IOL lenses

This means if you choose a monofocal IOL focused on distance vision, you may still need glasses for reading or vice versa.

Advantages of Monofocal IOLs

  • Simplicity and Reliability: Monofocal lenses have a long history of use and are known for their reliability.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Generally, they are less expensive than more complex lens types.
  • Reduced Visual Disturbances: These lenses typically have far fewer glare issues and halos than multifocal IOLs.

However, the main drawback is the potential need for glasses to compensate for the non-corrected distances.

Monofocal IOLs with Monovision

Monovision employs a technique where one eye is corrected for clear distance vision while the other eye is focused for reading or close-up tasks. This ingenious approach minimises the necessity for glasses across most activities, effectively emulating the effects achieved by monofocal IOLs.

Monovision is a well-established option that offers a viable solution for those seeking to lessen their reliance on glasses, particularly regarding activities such as reading or using digital devices.

Individuals can experience greater freedom and convenience in their everyday lives by opting for monovision.

It is worth mentioning that monovision may not be suitable for everyone, as certain patients may encounter difficulties in adapting to having one eye focused on nearby tasks while the other eye focuses on distant objects.

Exploring Multifocal IOLs

Multifocal IOLs represent a more advanced option. These lenses have multiple zones set at different powers, allowing for clear vision at various distances – near, intermediate, and far. They are designed to reduce the dependence on glasses for most daily activities.

Advantages of Multifocal IOLs

  • Versatility: Offers clear vision at multiple distances.
  • Reduced Dependence on Glasses: Ideal for those who wish to be less reliant on glasses.

Despite these advantages, some patients may experience halos and glare, especially at night, and they are typically more expensive than monofocal IOLs.

If you’re considering this option, it’s essential to weigh these factors carefully.

The Role of Toric IOLs in Correcting Astigmatism

Toric IOLs are tailored for individuals with astigmatism. Astigmatism is a common vision condition where the eye does not focus light evenly onto the retina, leading to blurred vision.

Advantages of Toric IOLs

  • Designed explicitly for Astigmatism: They offer clear vision by correcting the uneven curvature of the eye.
  • Improved Overall Vision Quality: Patients often report significant improvements in vision clarity.

These lenses are more complex and may cost more than monofocal IOLs, but they significantly improve vision for astigmatism patients.

Have a question about RLE Surgery? Get in touch today

Considerations for Choosing the Right IOL

Selecting the right IOL for RLE surgery is a decision that should be made with careful consideration of your specific vision needs, lifestyle, and the advice of your ophthalmologist. Here are key factors to consider:

Vision Needs and Lifestyle

  • Daily Activities: Consider if you do a lot of reading, driving, or computer work.
  • Visual Preferences: Some people prefer clearer distance vision, while others might prioritise near vision.
  • Tolerance for Glasses: Decide if you’re comfortable wearing glasses for certain activities.
three different distances of vision

Understanding the Trade-offs

  • Monofocal IOLs: Clear vision at one distance, but others need glasses.
  • Multifocal IOLs: Glasses-free for most distances, but possible visual disturbances.
  • Toric IOLs: Excellent for astigmatism but more costly.

Financial Considerations

The cost can vary significantly between different types of IOLs, and insurance coverage may also affect your decision.

Post-Surgery Adjustments

Some IOLs, especially multifocal ones, may require an adaptation period for your brain to adjust to the new way of seeing.

For more information on RLE surgery preparation, you can check our guide on Preparing for Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) Surgery.

Alternatives to RLE

Implantable Contact Lenses

Younger patients may be better suited to ICLs (implantable contact lenses), especially if in their 20s or 30s. Most RLE patients are 45-50 or older. Here is a comparison table of RLE versus ICL.




High and extreme prescriptions

Age range *



Preserves the ability to read naturally

Prescription range

Up to -18D (dioptres)

Up to -25D (dioptres)

Thin corneas

Maintains ability to read

Fast recovery


Operating theatre

Infection rate

1 in 3,000

1 in 3,000

LASIK Blended Vision

Patients in their 40s and 50s with no need for distance glasses or minimal long-sightedness and only need glasses for reading can choose LASIK blended vision.

This is a less expensive and less invasive treatment but may give fewer years of benefit.




Extreme prescriptions

High prescriptions

Prescription range

Up to -25D (dioptres)

Up to -12D (dioptres)

Thin corneas

Maintains ability to read with modified procedure

Fast recovery

Several days to weeks


Operating theatre

Infection rate

1 in 3,000

1 in 21,000


Choosing the right IOL for RLE surgery is a critical decision that affects your vision quality and lifestyle post-surgery. Understanding the types of IOLs and considering your vision needs and lifestyle will help make an informed decision.

Consultation with a qualified ophthalmologist is essential to select the most suitable IOL for your specific situation.

FAQ Section

Q1: What is Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) surgery?

RLE is a procedure where the eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to correct vision and reduce dependence on glasses or contact lenses.

Q2: What are the different types of IOLs available for RLE surgery?

The main types are:

  • Monofocal (clear vision at one distance)
  • Multifocal (clear vision at multiple distances)
  • EDOF (excellent distance and intermediate vision, less night issues)
  • Toric (designed explicitly for astigmatism).

Q3: Are there any visual disturbances with multifocal IOLs?

Some patients may experience halos or glare, especially at night, with multifocal IOLs.

Q4: Can Toric IOLs correct astigmatism?

Yes, Toric IOLs are designed to correct astigmatism, providing clearer vision.

Q5: Will I need glasses after RLE surgery with a monofocal IOL?

If the lens is set for distance vision, you might need glasses for distances not covered by the monofocal IOL’s focus, such as reading glasses.

Q6: How do I choose the right IOL for my RLE surgery?

Consider your vision needs, lifestyle, tolerance for glasses, and the advice of your ophthalmologist. Financial aspects and post-surgery adjustments should also be taken into account.

Have a question about RLE Surgery? Get in touch today

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