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The Long Term Benefits Of Refractive Lens Exchange

21 July 2020

5 year study shows clear lens exchange is safe and effective

 More and more people are choosing to tackle their poor vision. Many of those who have had enough of glasses or contact lenses are considering refractive lens exchange (RLE)

Less well known than laser eye surgery, it is increasingly the treatment of choice for people aged over 50 years, and a latest study captures the benefits of the procedure.

RLE is in fact an adaption of cataract surgery – the most commonly performed elective surgery, carried out over 330,000 times each year in England alone.

Optegra research experts, within the Eye Sciences department has undertaken the first study of its kind into long-term benefits of lens exchange surgery – with 88 per cent of patients stating quality of life has improved.

The study reviewed data from 12,990 RLE procedures performed between 1 Jan 2011 and 30 June 2017. It included study of lenses of eight different designs and varying focusing power and found:

  • Binocular vision (looking with both eyes) was driving standard or better in 99.5% of eyes
  • And 20/20 or better in 77.3%
  • Even in patients with high prescriptions such as short sightedness, distance vision was driving standard or better in 99.0% of very short sighted eyes and in 93.0% of very long sighted eyes. This was based on analysis of 264 highly short sighted and 152 highly long sighted eyes.

Dr. Clare O’Donnell who led the study is Head of Optegra Eye Sciences and also Reader at Aston University.  She said:

“The rationale for this study was to reflect our interest in and commitment to the long-term care of our patients, particularly as there is an increasing desire from many to become spectacle independent.

“While there are many studies capturing immediate outcomes and also one year on, this is the first to review patient outcomes and satisfaction up to seven years after treatment.

“The results were very encouraging, with 88% of respondents saying that knowing what they know now, they would have treatment again; and 88% saying their quality of life has improved since having RLE.”

Further study

Within the larger study, a subset of the main cohort were audited – from January 2018, Optegra Eye Sciences approached a selection of 2,427 patients, with 850 responses to date.  Of these, 65 per cent were female and 35 per cent male, and an average age of 65 years.

All patients had undergone lens exchange surgery at one of Optegra’s seven UK specialist eye hospitals between two and 7.5 years ago.

Key findings included:

  • 88% reported their quality of life had improved following surgery
  • 87% say expectations met or exceeded regarding being free of glasses
  • 85% strongly agree/agree they are satisfied with their unaided distance vision post surgery
  • 84% strongly agree/agree they are satisfied with their unaided mid-range vision
  • 74% strongly agree/agree they are satisfied with their unaided near vision
  • 90% of patients were comfortable with their vision without glasses or contact lenses during the daytime and 73% at night
  • 83% of patients said their expectations were met or exceeded around their current incidence of glare

Dr. O’Donnell concludes: “These results are very encouraging, with such high satisfaction levels and a marked improvement in quality of life for so many patients.

“While it is well documented that there are some potential side effects – halo and glare – for all intraocular lens procedures, this study shows that Optegra’s consultant surgeons are doing an excellent job in counseling patients on possible side effects and also not recommending the treatment if it was felt the patient could not cope with or adjust to them.  This has led to a very high level of satisfaction around this – even if there are some symptoms, it has not impacted patients’ overall satisfaction of the procedure.

“We plan to continue this study as results still come in from this cohort; and also we are keen to launch a similar study to review long term laser patients also.”

Optegra Eye Sciences is the not-for-profit research division of Optegra Eye Health Care and is committed to the development of eye sciences and championing the latest innovations in eye care.  This is achieved by partnering with leading UK universities in the research and development of the next generation of ophthalmic services and technologies. In addition, its Professional Partnership Programme of education and development with optometrists and opticians ensures the very best medical treatments are available to all.

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