• Before-RLE Treatment
    After-RLE Treatment
    Before RLE TreatmentRLE TreatmentAfter CLE Treatment

What is Clear Lens Exchange (CLE) / Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)?

Clear Lens Exchange (CLE), also known as Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), Natural Lens Replacement, or presbyopic lens replacement surgery, involves removing your eye’s natural crystalline lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to correct your vision.

If you need glasses for seeing things up close, such as reading, as well as for distance, it is not possible to correct both issues with laser eye surgery. In this case, Clear Lens Exchange / Refractive Lens Exchange can help.

We’ve all been in that situation where we’ve forgotten our reading glasses and can’t read a menu in a restaurant and need borrow a friend’s pair. Or just can’t get along with those varifocal glasses or multifocal contact lenses. Imagine if this could be a thing of the past and be glasses free for the rest of your life. No more hassle of glasses or contact lenses!

The procedure is very similar to cataract surgery, which is the one of the most commonly performed medical procedures worldwide, and according the World Health Organisation (WHO), is also one of the safest. However, instead of removing a cloudy lens (cataract), a clear lens is removed and exchanged with an IOL that corrects your prescription. Hence we’ve aptly named the procedure Clear Lens Exchange (CLE).

refractive lens exchangeAs we age, the natural lens in our eye gradually weakens, causing difficulty focussing on objects up close and problems reading, eventually leading to the need for reading glasses after the age of 40. This is called presbyopia, and everyone develops it at some point. For this reason CLE treatment is ideally suited for patients over the age of 40 who are already having reading problems.

We offer two different styles of IOLs, which can give you clear vision at different distances:

  • Monofocal – Available in both spherical and toric (for astigmatism) designs, this is single focus intraocular lens (IOL) which gives clear vision at distance and you will need glasses for reading and computer use.
  • Trifocal – Available in both spherical and toric (for astigmatism) designs, this is our most popular intraocular lens as it provides clear vision for distance, intermediate AND near.
  • Piggyback Trifocals – Available in both spherical and toric (for astigmatism) designs. Ideal it you’ve already had cataract surgery on the NHS. This is an add-on intraocular lens (IOL) that sits in front of your existing lens implant (in the sulcus). It is very easily done by our experienced surgeons, and much safer than explanting an IOL that was implanted many years beforehand. It provides clear distance, intermediate AND near vision for those wanting to be varifocal or reading glasses free. AVC is one of the only clinics in the UK to offer this treatment to patients who have already had cataract surgery on the NHS.

Book a Consultation

Book your Consultation or
Request a Callback

Would you like us to call you back?
If so, when is the best time for you?

piggyback intraocular lens exchangeWhen multifocal IOLs were introduced, they were heralded as a means of improving both distance and near vision. However, with the nature of our work in this day and age, we continually demand better intermediate vision, and it could be argued that intermediate vision is even more crucial than near vision what with the use of computers, tablets, smart phones, etc. Trifocal IOLs are the latest generation of multifocal IOLs and improve vision across all spectrums. Published reports indicate higher levels of patient satisfaction, better quality of vision (especially at night) and more freedom from glasses. Imagine having clear vision at ALL distances!

Here at AVC, we have access to the three most widely used Trifocal (intraocular lens implants) IOLs:

AT LISA IOLAT LISA (Carl Zeiss Meditec, Jena, Germany) – available in spherical and toric designs
Finevision IOLFineVision (PhysIOL, Liege, Belgium) – available in spherical and toric designs
PanOptix IOLPanOptix (Alcon, Fort Worth, Texas)

They all work similarly and have an additional foci for intermediate vision providing you with a full range of correction and allowing you to switch naturally between all distances. Your surgeon will decide which is the IOL best suited to you.

Clear Lens Exchange / Refractive Lens Exchange is not only able to correct all fields of vision, but also ensures that cataracts will never develop in the future, meaning you can enjoy the rest of your life glasses free!

  • AVC’s Alcon Refractive Suite is the most advanced CLE theatre in the UK.
  • AVC have no affiliation with lens manufacturers and provide patients with a lens truly suited to their visual and lifestyle needs.
  • The entire patient journey is under one roof at AVC.
  • We are one of the few clinics on Harley clinic to have both laser and cataract surgical theatres in the same premises.
  • AVC are leaders in Trifocal intraocular lenses and are able correct almost any prescription.
  • Trifocal intraocular implants allow for a full prescription correction, leaving patients largely glasses free.
  • Across the world there are 6 million IOL lenses implanted every year.
  • Having problems adapting to varifocal glasses or multifocal contact lenses? Trifocal intraocular lens implants may be the solution for you.

For certain patients, CLE treatment is often a better option to Laser Eye Surgery as there is virtually no limit in the treatable prescription range and here at AVC we tailor make treatment plans to your prescription, no matter how complex.

Clear Lens Exchange (CLE) / Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) – Patient Journey

Suitability for clear lens exchange surgery

From a clinical perspective, Clear Lens Exchange is a viable alternative for patients with refractive errors who are not candidates for LASIK (an advanced form of Laser Eye Surgery which AVC specialises in). AVC will offer patients both monofocal and trifocal lenses depending on their personal requirements.

In order to determine your suitability for treatment, a consultation will take place at our Harley Street clinic, London’s centre of medical excellence. This is where our unrivalled standard of patient care begins; our friendly and attentive clinical team will ensure you feel relaxed and at ease in our comfortable and historic building.

A thorough eye examination, as well as a range of sophisticated diagnostic tests will be carried out using the most advanced technology available. It is imperative to establish what your motivation for surgery is, what your expectations are, and whether you have any specific visual requirements which need to be taken into consideration. This is all determined by carrying out an in depth discussion about your general health and lifestyle, to ensure that any surgical recommendations will match your individual requirements. Wherever possible your surgical recommendation will be made personally by our consultant surgeon and medical director Mr C T Pillai. If Mr Pillai is unavailable, one of our fully trained senior optometrists will carry out your consultation and make a recommendation for you which will then be reviewed and approved by Mr Pillai. You will naturally have the opportunity to speak to the surgeon personally either on the phone or at another clinical visit.


Treatment process

CLE/RLE is a safe and quick procedure that usually takes about fifteen minutes to complete on one eye. The surgery is performed over two consecutive days, where one eye is treated on one day and the second eye is treated the following day. You are allowed to go home on the very same day.

The procedure is painless and needle free (anaesthetic drops are used), and during surgery you will see a series of colours and lights. Your eye will be covered with a protective shield afterwards, and this can be removed the following day.



Recovery time after CLE is very quick. You only need three days off work, two for the treatment and one more for your follow up appointment. After that, you can go back to your day to day visual tasks.

Visual recovery is also very quick. Most patients will report very good vision the next day, however some require a little longer. We all heal at different rates and some blurring during the first couple of days is quite normal. Most of our patients achieve driving standard within three to four days’ time.


Interested in CLE/RLE?

If you would like to find out more about Clear Lens Exchange at Advanced Vision Care, the pros and cons, what it might cost and what it can do for your eyesight, then why not call AVC Today on 0800 652 4878 for your FREE Telephone Consultation.

Why choose Advanced Vision Care?

  • UK’s leading independent vision correction clinic with Trustpilot reviews of 9.5/10.
  • First and only clinic in the UK to have the latest and most advanced Alcon Refractive Suite for Clear Lens Exchange treatment / Refractive Lens Exchange.
  • Our world class surgeons have over seven decades of combined experience, they include the world renowned Mr CT Pillai, Dr Goran Helgason and Professor Martin Filipec.
  • Treatments are truly bespoke, customised to each individual’s specific visual parameters and requirements to achieve outstanding results.
  • All appointments from the consultation to treatment and aftercare can all be performed at our AVC clinic on Harley Street.
  • The UK’s leading provider in ICL and Trifocal IOLs.
  • We have the largest independent optometrist network in the country, meaning patients can have treatment at our Harley Street clinic and enjoy incredible aftercare locally with our trusted optometry partners.
  • To make it easier for patients to get the best treatment suited to their needs, AVC has partnered with the UK’s leading health insurance providers.
  • We have an excellent team of highly experienced NHS consultants to perform private insurance patients.
  • Completely independent surgeon-led clinic with no affiliation with any manufacturers enabling us to choose the best to fit our patients’ visual and lifestyle needs.
  • Provide all patients with the best possible care, constantly surpassing expectations.

Your 3 Step Personal Treatment Plan

Our 5 star treatment is all about what is best for you


Step 1: Your Consultation

At your detailed consultation, we will carry out a thorough range of tests on your eyes to find out if you are suitable and to design the very best treatment plan for you.


Step 2: Your Surgery

With AVC’s world renowned eye surgeons and state of the art technology, you are guaranteed to experience surgery that is second to none.


Step 3: 1 Year Aftercare

Our commitment to excellence means that AVC guarantees you a 1 year Commitment of Care that starts the day after your surgery is completed.

What Our Patients Say

Private Insurance

Now more people than ever can have the world class treatment with Advanced Vision Care on Harley Street. Our pricing is not only transparent but we have ensured that there are several ways to fund treatment so that no one has to compromise in quality of care, standards or technology. At AVC we offer interest free finance plans to help spread the cost and we have partnered with the UK’s leading insurance providers to make Harley Street quality available for more people.

Refer & Earn


Earn £100 after you refer a friend and they have clear lens exchange treatment at Advanced Vision Care