Will I be able to see 20/20 with RLE?

The expectation of 20/20 vision after RLE determines whether surgery is recommended. We want your goal of 20/20 to be overshot by results that are even better.

Joel Hunter, MD
Joel Hunter, MD
Refractive Surgeon, Hunter Vision Updated 11/21/19 10:38 AM

The good news about RLE for the majority of people is the same as the bad news about RLE for a smaller segment of the population. RLE is able to help you get to your best vision. “Your best vision” is exactly that — it’s yours. Eyes are like legs in that some people have a set more capable than others. I’ve got two legs and so does Usain Bolt, but if a bear is ever chasing us then it would quickly become clear that our legs aren’t equally capable. I’d be left with the only option of turning towards the bear and holding my coat out to make myself look large and tell the bear that I read it in a survival book once.

A sizable part of determining if you are a candidate for RLE is figuring out what visual acuity (20/20 being the most famous example) your eyes are capable of seeing. If it turns out to be 20/20 or an even better 20/15 during the testing and diagnostics of your consult, that’s excellent starting grounds for RLE. Our lowest bar for success if getting the eye to see, without glasses, at least as well as it could with glasses before surgery. In the case of 20/20 vision with the best glasses possible before surgery, that would mean 20/20 after surgery without those glasses.

RLE raises the bar on your vision

The fun part about RLE is that a lot of times you can raise the ceiling for how well an eye can see. Getting a visual acuity measurement of 20/15 for an eye that was previously only capable of 20/20, that’s the cat’s pajamas. And yes, yes, people don’t really say that anymore, but I think they would if they were talking about something like this. It’s like having knee surgery, but instead of being able to restore functionality, it results in being able to run even faster than before the procedure.

Whether or not you’ll be able to see 20/20 after RLE is only able to be determined from the diagnostics and testing in a consult. But honestly, if the answer is that you won’t be able to see 20/20 after the surgery, there’s a pretty low chance that you’ll be a candidate. There are only a handful of cases I can remember where RLE was an option despite knowing an eye couldn’t see 20/20. Those are special cases, and I can tell you for certain that the expected results get discussed in so much detail for those that there aren’t any questions — as I remember it, they’ve asked me to stop talking.

20/20 is just the starting point

In short, 20/20 after RLE is usually the goal post that determines whether or not surgery is recommended. If you are a candidate for RLE and don’t hear me explain for 45 minutes why 20/20 may be possible but isn’t likely, then 20/20 is a reasonable expectation. Ideally, we want your reasonable expectation of 20/20 to be overshot by results that are even better. A lot of folks have more capable eyes than they realize. You may be one of them.


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Author:Joel Hunter, MD is an Ophthalmologist, Refractive Surgeon, and the Founder of Hunter Vision, a LASIK Clinic in Orlando, Florida. A recognized and respected specialist in vision correction who has performed a countless number of refractive surgeries, Joel gives lectures across the country and trains fellow doctors in the newest LASIK surgery techniques.

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