Light Adjustable Lenses: What Are They & How Do They Work?

Female eye doctor discussing the pros and cons of light adjustable lens with an elderly male patient

At Baptist Eye Surgeons, we’re always in search of the latest and greatest advancements in eye care. That’s because they help us provide you with better care for your eye health and vision. This led us to add Adjustable Lenses from RxSight to our options for cataract procedures. These lenses are a revolutionary cataract surgery option that gives you the most precise prescription possible.Older woman in glasses sitting outside and smiling

Light Adjustable Lenses are lens implants used in cataract removal procedures. They allow for post-operative adjustments using light treatments and can correct other vision issues. This is possible thanks to photochemistry and proprietary additives that customize the lens to match individual requirements. RxSight’s technology represents a significant development in intraocular lenses, providing improved clarity of vision.

What Are Light Adjustable Lenses?

The Light Adjustable Lens (LAL) is a type of intraocular lens, or IOL for short. LALs are a type of lens implant used during a cataract removal, replacing your original lens and allowing for post-operative adjustments using light treatments. With intraocular lenses, you can customize your vision after cataract surgery to fit your individual needs.

LALs also provide an opportunity to correct other vision issues during surgery, such as:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia)
  • Irregularly shaped lenses (astigmatism)

Developing cataracts—the hardening of proteins in the lens of the eye—is a natural part of getting older. In fact, over 24 million adults 40 and over in the United States have the condition. Over time, cataracts can lead to a clouding of the lens, causing once-vivid and bright colors to appear dull. 

Ophthalmologists prefer to treat the condition without surgery, instead opting for:

  • Stronger lens prescriptions
  • Using magnifying glasses
  • Installing brighter lights

Unfortunately, cataracts can become so severe that these non-surgical options no longer work. When this happens, the only option is to remove the natural, clouded lens and replace it with an IOL. However, not all IOLs are created equal. Knowing your options when your cataracts have progressed to this point will help you choose the best IOL for you.

Read our interview with Dr. Darin Smith to learn more about intraocular lenses.


How Do They Work?

RxSight’s Light Adjustable Lenses offer a revolutionary way to fine-tune the prescription of an artificial lens. Your eye doctor can treat you right in our office with exposure to UV light from a light delivery device. 

With each visit, your doctor customizes your lenses. By your final light treatment, you will have your ideal prescription to suit your lifestyle. You will need to protect your lenses from the sun’s UV rays between visits. To do this, we will supply you with a special pair of UV protective glasses to protect your lenses during the day.

After the lens has been implanted and your eye is healed, our expert ophthalmologists at Baptist Eye Surgeons can apply these light treatments to create a personalized prescription. This results in customizable vision for your specific needs and lifestyle.

The Science Behind Light Adjustable LensesOlder man outside and smiling

This cutting-edge lens owes its capabilities to photochemistry and the manipulation of its internal components. Unique to these lenses are proprietary additives called macromers, which are photoreactive silicone compounds evenly distributed throughout. These macromers enable your eye surgeon to customize the lens to match your exact requirements.

When a designated area of the lens is exposed to light, the macromers in that region bind with adjacent macromers, forming polymers. Meanwhile, the unaffected macromers diffuse into the non-exposed areas of the lens. This precisely controlled process leads to a highly predictable alteration in the shape and strength of the artificial lens, resulting in improved clarity of vision.

This innovative technology empowers our Knoxville eye surgeons to perform spherical and cylindrical adjustments to the lens. The process can be repeated as long as untreated macromers remain in the lens, offering three to five opportunities for our team to fine-tune your prescription after the initial implantation.

Learn more about Light Adjustable Lenses.


The Two Types of Artificial Lenses

You can get your crystal-clear vision back by replacing your clouded lens with artificial options. What’s more, these artificial lenses come with unique benefits depending on the type you choose. 

Artificial lenses can be broken down into two types:

  • Fixed lenses
  • Adjustable lenses

IOLs have a specific prescription like prescription contacts and glasses. For fixed lenses, the prescription is decided on before your cataract surgery. Since they’re fixed, the prescription of the lenses can’t be changed once they’ve been implanted. Any future changes to the prescription will require more surgery later on.

This can be a frustrating reality for many people, especially if you’ve paid for premium IOLs. This includes toric lenses for correcting astigmatism and multifocal lenses that, like LALs, aren’t covered by insurance. In cases like these, you want an option that will provide the lens power you need without having to schedule another (or even multiple) surgery. 

That’s where adjustable lenses come in. They can be updated after surgery up to five times. Your eyes will need time to heal after your cataract procedure. Once that’s complete, you can start testing the prescription of your new artificial lens. If you want a stronger prescription, you can have your eye doctor update them to achieve 20/20 vision, or as close as possible.

RxSight’s Light Adjustable Lenses are a major development in intraocular lens technology. Eye specialists have been able to customize lenses to your specific needs for years. However, we have never been able to perform the fine-tuning provided by these lenses. Our eye surgeons are excited to offer these lenses to patients in East Tennessee and see how your vision (and life) improves.

Are you interested in light adjustable intraocular lenses? Contact us today to schedule your appointment!


Light Adjustable Lenses are implanted during cataract-removal surgery. They offer the unique ability to be fine-tuned after the operation for a stronger prescription. Thanks to their photochemistry and exclusive additives, our eye surgeons can tailor the lens to meet your specific needs. The innovative technology by RxSight marks a significant advancement in intraocular lenses, promising enhanced vision clarity for all patients.

Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN. Give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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