Skip to main content

What Is Clear Lens Extraction (CLE)?

Clear lens extraction (CLE)—also known as refractive lensectomy or refractive lens exchange—is similar to cataract surgery. Both CLE and cataract surgery involve removing your eye's natural lens and replacing it with a synthetic lens.

In most cases, the synthetic lens corrects for distance vision, usually requiring a pair of reading glasses for close work. Different synthetic lens replacement options include correction for both distance and near vision as well as lenses that can correct for astigmatism.

This procedure may be used for patients who have farsightedness or nearsightedness combined with astigmatism. Presbyopic patients can also benefit.

Clear Lens Extraction (CLE) Illustration

Pros & Cons in Choosing Clear Lens Extraction


  • CLEs are an alternative for patients who are not eligible for laser surgery.
  • They correct high myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) that is out of the range of laser surgery and phakic IOLs.
  • You will no longer develop a cataract since the lens has been removed and replaced by a clear implant.
  • You will experience minimal postoperative discomfort.


  • You might lose your ability to accommodate; you may need reading glasses for near vision.
  • The placement procedure is more invasive than laser refractive surgery; it is done in the operating room with topical and/or general anesthesia.
  • It is harder to remove than phakic IOLs.

Four Surgical Options for Clear Lens Extraction (CLE)

There are three options that surgeons currently use when doing clear lens exchange:

1. Implanting a traditional or monofocal lens in both eyes - This gives the patient the best corrected distance vision. The patient will require reading glasses after surgery for near work.

2. Doing a mono-vision correction - The second option is to use a traditional monofocal lens in both eyes, which means that the dominant eye (usually) is corrected for distance and the non dominant eye is under corrected so the patient can see up close.

3. Using multifocal lenses - These specialty intraocular lenses divide the light that enters the eye into two primary focal points. One is for distance vision; the other is for near vision. These lenses are good for patients who are motivated to have distance and near without glasses or mono-vision.

When considering CLE ask your surgeon which of these lenses would work best for you.


Cost & Payment Options for LASIK & Vision Correction Surgery

The Moran Eye Center offers several cost and payment options for LASIK and PRK surgery.

Find Out More

Find a Vision Correction Surgeon