What is Clear Lens Extraction (CLE)?

What is Clear Lens Extraction (CLE)?


Clear lens extraction (CLE) is similar to cataract surgery. Both involve the removal of the eye's natural lens, 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.

Surgical Options

There are four surgical options that your specialist could use when implanting the clear lenses. Read more about the four surgical options for CLE.

Pros & Cons in Choosing Clear Lens Extraction


  • CLEs are an alternative for patients who are not eligible for laser surgery.
  • The 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 as 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 more difficult to remove than phakic IOLs.

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Four Surgical Options for Clear Lens Extraction (CLE)

There are four 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. There are two multifocal lenses on the market AcrySof ReSTOR and the ReZoom.

4. Using crystalens - Crystalens are the first of the accommodative lenses. This lens was approved by the FDA in 2005. Crystalens attempts to imitate the eye's natural accommodation by moving back and forth in the eye in a flexing motion in response to pressure inside the eye giving the patient distance and near in the same eye. This lens is also a possibility for CLE patients seeking distance and near without glasses or mono-vision.

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