Lens Replacement Surgery

Lens replacement surgery is a common medical procedure in which the eye's natural lens is replaced with an artificial plastic lens, to correct problems with vision in individuals who do not qualify for laser eye surgery.

The average cost of lens replacement surgery is approximately £2,900, although the price you will pay will be affected by the type of lens inserted into your eye. Many clinics offer finance options to help you spread the cost of the surgery.

Lens replacement surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgical procedures for correcting problems with vision, with serious side effects being very rare.

What Is Lens Replacement Surgery?

If you suffer from nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia), you may be able to undergo lens exchange surgery to correct your vision impairment, if you are not suitable for laser eye surgery.

With this procedure, vision is corrected through the removal of your natural eye lens, and the fitting of a replacement known as an intraocular lens (IOL). This lens will enable you to see clearly and to focus, which negates the need for glasses or contact lenses. Ahead of the treatment, your nurse will administer anaesthetic drops to numb the eye so that you don’t experience any pain or discomfort. The procedure lasts about 15 minutes, and is similar in nature to cataract surgery (you will need to leave about a week in between treatments for each eye). For most patients, vision will be improved and the difference will become noticeable in the following days, although it may take up to a week for you to be able to resume your normal routine.

If you have conditions such as presbyopia or hyperopia for example, or if your cornea is considered too thin to withstand corrective laser eye surgery, lens replacement surgery could be a very viable option.

However, with near-sightedness, images that enter the eye are focused in front of the retina instead of entering it, which results in the images appearing blurry. Surgery changes the shape of the lens so that images can enter. For far-sightedness, images are positioned behind your retina rather than on it. Surgery can correct this by replacing the lens.

The Different Types of Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)

In lens replacement surgery, the surgeon will remove your natural lens and replace it with a synthetic, plastic intraocular lens (IOL). The type of IOL that will be inserted into your eye will depend on the type of refractive error you have. The three main types of IOL are:

  • Monofocal: this type of lens helps you to focus at one distance - either far, intermediate or near distance. It is recommended to patients over 40 or those with cataracts. A monofocal lens implant is also used when patients suffer from a specific type of refractive disorder, including high myopia.
  • Accommodating: this lens enables you to see clearly both close up and far away by shifting its position within the your eye. Glasses are usually needed for near vision tasks however, such as reading and writing.
  • Multifocal: like accommodating IOLs, this type of lens implant corrects for both short- and long-sightedness producing an effect that is similar to wearing bifocal glasses. This IOL eliminates the need for glasses, but is not recommended if you have small pupils or do a lot of night driving due to the possibility of ‘halos’ obscuring your vision.

Am I Eligible for Lens Replacement Surgery?

Lens replacement surgery isn't for everyone. If you have myopia (nearsightedness) or a mild form of hyperopria (farsightedness) the drawback and limitations mean that some other form of laser surgery is usually a better option. Instead lens replacement is more suited to three specific situations:

  • You have severe hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • You have presbyopia (a natural, age-related change to your lens that makes it harder to focus on objects in your near distance)
  • You have a combination of both presbyopia and moderate hyperopia
  • You suffer from cataracts (a clouding of the lens caused by a build-up of protein)

What Are the Benefits of Lens Replacement Surgery?

This form of surgery can present a permanent solution for people with refractive errors and cataracts. It has a number of benefits, including:

  1. As the natural lens is replaced with an IOL, patients who receive surgery will never require further surgery later in life as the artificial lens won't be affected by degenerative diseases or age-related deterioration.
  2. The artificial implant itself is invisible to the naked eye and cannot be felt by the patient once inserted into the eye.
  3. The surgery is one of the safest in the world, with many patients only experiencing minor side effects for a few weeks after surgery such as blurred vision and itchy eyes.

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    How Much Does Lens Replacement Surgery Cost?

    The average cost of lens replacement surgery in the UK is approximately £2,800 per eye. The table below shows you how much you should expect to pay per eye for lens replacement surgery at some of the UK's top eye surgery clinics:

    Clinic Price Per Eye
    Advanced Vision Care From £2,950
    Focus From £2,700
    Optegra From £3,495
    Optical Express From £1,895
    Optimax From £2,995
    Ultralase From £2,495

    The overall cost of your lens replacement surgery will be affected by the type of intraocular lens (IOL) that is inserted into your eye. Premium IOLs such as multifocal lenses, are typically more expensive since they allow you to focus clearly at various distances at a time. Although this drives up the cost, these lenses do eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses which can be add up to a significant cost over time. The table below provides you with an estimate about how much you should expect to pay per eye for the three most common types of IOL:

    Type Of IOL Price Per Eye
    Monofocal From £1,800
    Accommodatingl From £2,100
    Multifocal From £2,200

    Can I Get Lens Replacement Surgery On Finance?

    Many of the UK's leading eye surgery clinics offer a range of financing options to help you spread the cost of your lens replacement surgery. These typically require you to pay an initial deposit, followed by small payments over a pre-agreed time period often ranging from 10 months up to 48 months. The repayment terms and conditions will vary between clinics, so it is essential that you fully understand them before entering into a financial agreement. All clinics will also require you to undergo a credit check before they allow you to pay for your surgery on finance.

    The table below shows you some of finance options offered by trusted, nationwide eye surgery clinics in the UK. It provides you with information about the deposit amount, as well as the size of the monthly financial instalments over each clinic's shortest and longest payback periods:

    Clinic Deposit Shortest Payback Period Longest Payback Period
    Advanced Vision Care From £1,900 Available On Request Available On Request
    Focus From £500 Available On Request 0% APR x 24 months = £229.17 per month
    Optegra From £349.50 0% APR x 12 months = £262.12 per month 0% APR x 48 months = £58.24 per month
    Optical Express From £500 0% APR x 10 months = £149.50 per month 11.5% APR x 72 months = £28.40 per month
    Optimax Available On Request Available On Request 11.5% APR x 48 months = £64.40 per month
    Ultralase Available On Request Available On Request 11.5% APR x 36 months = £64.40 per month

    Lens Replacement Surgery Procedure

    Lens replacement surgery is generally performed on an out-patient basis meaning that patients will not normally spend more than a few hours in the clinic, with the procedure itself only taking approximately 15 minutes to complete.

    The procedure is performed under a local anaesthetic, where aneasthetic eye drops are used to numb the eyes during the procedure. A small incision is then made in the eye through which the old lens will be extracted and the new artificial lens fitted. The natural lens will be removed with the assistance of ultrasound before the replacement synthetic lens is inserted.

    Recovering from Surgery

    Following surgery, patients will be able to resume everyday activities within a week including returning to work and driving.

    While the recovery time for lens replacement surgery is relatively quick, patients often report experiencing one or more of the following short-term, minor side effects:

    • Blurred vision which can last a few days.
    • Halos around bright lights, particularly at night.
    • Increased sensitivity to light which can last a few weeks.
    • Sore and itchy eyes which can last a few weeks.

    Risks & Complications Following surgery

    Lens replacement is a common procedure that millions of patients undergo each year. It is considered to be one of the safest and most effective optical procedures available.

    Many of the risks of lens replacement surgery are only minor complaints such as the ones listed above, but more serious complications can occur, although it is important to remember that they are very rare.

    The most likely serious complication of this surgery is posterior capsule opacification (PCO). This occurs when the surgeon fails to remove all the fragments of the original lens. The natural response is for the lens particles to regrow around the artificial lens, which can cause severe vision problems. However, this condition can be rectified using laser surgery to fully remove the natural cells.

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