Patient Education

A growing library of easy-to-read informational pages about a host of common eye problems.

Refractive Lens Exchange

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People who have severe farsightedness (hyperopia), nearsightedness (myopia), presbyopia and astigmatism have an option to correct their eye conditions through an alternative to LASIK known as Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE). Since some patients with higher levels of correction may not be candidates for LASIK or PRK, RLE may be an alternative.

What is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Refractive Lens Exchange, also known as Clear lens extraction, is a procedure where the eye’s lens is removed and is replaced with an artificial lens to correct refractive errors. The lens is one of the parts of your eye that functions to focus light rays on the retina. In patients with hyperopia or myopia, the light rays are not focused exactly on the retina, causing blurred vision and the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. In RLE, the artificial intraocular lens implant will allow your eye to focus the light rays in a precise area in the retina for vision correction.

RLE is commonly performed in middle-aged patients who have levels of hyperopia or myopia that cannot be corrected using LASIK or PRK, and who may also have presbyopia and very early signs of cataract formation. Astigmatism can also be corrected by RLE if needed.

Phakic Implant/ICL (Implantable Contact Lenses)

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What are Phakic implants?

Some people with nearsightedness or myopia wish to improve their vision through corrective corneal procedures like LASIK and PRK. However, not all patients are good candidates for these procedures, possibly because of certain properties of the eye such as a very thin cornea, dry eyes or severe nearsightedness. A good alternative to these are Phakic implants.

Phakic implants, also called Implantable contact lenses (ICLs), are specially made intraocular lenses that are designed to be surgically inserted into the eye and remain there throughout your lifetime. They function much like contact lenses to correct one’s vision; the main difference is that the phakic implant permanently stays inside the eye instead of staying on the outside surface. Also, unlike traditional contact lenses, generally people are not able to feel the phakic contact lens inside the eye, and there is no regular maintenance that needs to be performed like cleaning and soaking of the contact lenses.

Refractive Errors

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Variations in the shape and size of the eye can affect how light rays are focused onto the macula. When these light rays are out of focus, they can cause refractive errors, which if left uncorrected, can adversely affect the visual acuity. It is estimated that about half (50%) of American adults have a refractive error that prevents them from attaining 20/20 vision without glasses or contacts.


The cornea and the lens work in conjunction to focus light rays that enter the eye precisely on the macula. The cornea provides about 2/3 of the total refractive power of the eye (i.e. power of the eye), and the lens provides the remaining 1/3. An imbalance of these powers can cause the eye to focus light in front of, behind, or unequally on the retina. These lead to the most common refractive errors experienced throughout life.

Lasik Surgery Seattle

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People with normal vision have the cornea curved in such a way that all the light rays entering the eye are directed toward the retina – the part where light rays are sent to the brain to be interpreted into images. The light rays meet at the right point in the retina so that the image can be formed clearly.

Eye conditions like farsightedness (hyperopia), nearsightedness (myopia) and astigmatism occur because the cornea is too flat, curved or irregular, causing the light rays to meet at the wrong distance from the retina. These conditions are usually chronic, requiring eyeglasses or contact lenses to clarify the vision. If you have any of these eye conditions and you want to improve your vision while decreasing your need for contact lenses or glasses, refractive surgery may be a good option for you.