Laser Eye Surgery vs Clear Lens Exchange (IOLs)

For patients who are found suitable for either Laser Eye Surgery or a Clear Lens Exchange intra-ocular lens (IOL) procedure, making the decision which to choose can be daunting.

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:

Will Either Of These Treatments Allow Me To Get Rid Of My Glasses Completely?

The changes to the eye by Laser Eye Surgery are permanent; after Laser Eye Surgery, most patients are able to dispense with their glasses for many years, or even forever (if this does not apply to you, your surgeon and optometrist should discuss the implications of this with you in detail, before you make a decision to proceed). If you have laser eye surgery prior to the age of 40, you will still develop presbyopia (natural ageing of the eyes, affecting the reading vision) in later life, but this is likely to develop slowly and gradually. London Vision Clinic’s solution for correcting presbyopia is Laser Blended Vision – a laser eye surgery procedure which corrects both reading and distance vision. Laser Blended Vision is suitable for around 97% of patients with presbyopia, and the effects tend to last for many years – and often for the rest of the patient’s life. Patients who have had previous laser eye surgery at London Vision Clinic, and then gone on to develop presbyopia in middle age, are often eligible for a Laser Blended Vision Enhancement procedure.

By contrast, with Clear Lens Exchange (CLE), the focusing ability of the lens is eliminated (as the natural lens is removed), so patients will have to wear reading glasses once they reach middle age. In recent years, a number of IOL implants have become available which claim to treat presbyopia, as they have points of focus at near, far and intermediate distance. However, by splitting the light entering the eye, multifocal IOLs can reduce image quality and cause symptoms of glare and haloes, especially in low light. In some instances, they are not tolerated by patients and have to be removed.

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What Are The Risks Involved?

Laser Eye Surgery is a much lower risk procedure than Clear Lens Exchange (CLE). CLE is an intra-ocular procedure, and therefore carries a higher risk of infection than Laser Eye Surgery (which is performed on the cornea and does not require the surgeon to ‘go inside’ the eye). Implantation of IOLs also carries a heightened risk of other complications (such as retinal detachment) when compared with Laser Eye Surgery. Overall, the risk of significant and permanent loss of vision in an eye undergoing CLE is approximately 1 in 1000. The risk of going blind from laser eye surgery with an expert surgeon using today’s technology is almost too small to measure – it is estimated to be around 1 in 5 million.

What If I Choose Laser Eye Surgery, And Later Develop Cataracts?

Sometimes, patients choose IOLs over Laser Eye Surgery on the basis that it will also prevent them from developing cataracts in later life. However, as mentioned above, Clear Lens Exchange is a more invasive and higher risk procedure than Laser Eye Surgery. We do not recommend this option for correcting refractive error, except in the unlikely event that a patient is found unsuitable for laser eye surgery.

If you undergo Laser Eye Surgery and later develop a cataract, you will still be able to have cataract surgery (phaco-emulsification) to have it removed, but you will still have the advantage of having had an increased depth of field placed in the cornea so will be able to benefit from a high-quality optics intraocular lens, as opposed to the more commonly used multi-focal lenses.

If you have any questions on Laser Eye Surgery or CLE intra-ocular procedures, give London Vision Clinic a call on 020 7224 1005.

Laser Eye Surgery vs Clear Lens Exchange (IOLs)