Clear Lens Extraction / Refractive Lens Exchange

Clear lens extraction (CLE), also known as Refactive Lens Exchange (RLE), is an emerging procedure for the treatment of very high amounts of myopia (nearsightedness). This technique involves removing the crystalline lens from inside the eye.

For some patients, clear lens extraction may become a better option than LASIK. However, there is an increased risk of retinal detachment and other serious complications with CLE because it is an internal eye procedure (compared to LASIK, which affects only the cornea).

Patients who have CLE also lose all ability to change focus after the procedure, since the natural focusing mechanism is removed. Regardless of the patient's age, reading glasses are required after CLE surgery to see objects up close.

Because of these limitations, CLE is unlikely to become a mainstream vision correction procedure. (Currently, clear lens extraction accounts for less than 1% of all vision correction surgeries performed in the U.S.) Still, for extremely nearsighted individuals who cannot tolerate wearing contact lenses, CLE may be a viable option.

This procedure does not yet have FDA approval.