We answer all of your
Refractive Lens Exchange or
Cataract surgery questions

Cataract and Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery FAQs

Below is a list of questions commonly asked by people considering Cataract or Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) surgery. Click on the question below to link directly to the answer. Use your browser’s “Back” button to return to the list of questions. If you are unable to find an answer to your specific question here or elsewhere on the site, please call or . We will be happy to respond directly to you.


What Do I Need to Know Before Cataract or RLE Surgery?


What Can I Expect During Cataract or RLE Surgery?


What Can I Expect After Cataract or RLE Surgery?


What Do I Need to Know Before Cataract or RLE Surgery?

 
What is a cataract?

A cataract is usually the result of the natural aging process. As you get older, the natural lens, located behind the iris in your eye, may gradually begin to get "cloudy" and interfere with light and images getting to your retina. As the lens becomes cloudier, your vision slowly becomes more blurred. If allowed to remain, the cataract will progress to the point where there will be a complete loss of vision in your eye. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract.

Back to top

 
How do I know if I am a candidate for RLE or Cataract surgery?

You may be a candidate for RLE surgery if you:

  • are over the age of 45 and having difficulty focusing on objects up close
  • do not qualify for laser vision correction, such as LASIK, because you are either too farsighted or too nearsighted
  • are tired of wearing bifocals or progressives lenses for both reading and distance vision
  • night vision, impaired depth perception and increased color distortion

You may be a candidate for Cataract surgery if you:

  • are diagnosed with a visually significant cataract condition and
  • are noticing decreased night vision, impaired depth perception and increased color distortion

Back to top

 
How is RLE surgery different than Cataract surgery?

RLE and Cataract surgery are essentially the same procedure. In both instances, the natural lens of your eye is removed through a small incision made in the iris of your eye and replaced by a man-made lens that is designed to remain permanently. The only difference is that RLE is a totally elective procedure performed to decrease the need for glasses; removing the cataract in Cataract surgery is performed for medical reasons (for example, adequate vision cannot be achieved with glasses).

Back to top

 
What are the risks with Cataract and RLE surgery?

As with any surgery, there are certain risks. Fortunately, the risks of RLE and Cataract surgery are low and patient satisfaction is high.

Need for a Laser “touch up” - It's possible that some nearsightedness or farsightedness will remain after surgery. This can be treated by replacing the artificial lens with one of a different power or by laser vision correction that can fine-tune the result. Increased glare or halos around light at night can also result, although these tend to diminish over time. Twenty percent of patients will develop hazy or cloudy vision over time that requires a further, non-invasive laser procedure to fix.

Back to top

 
What are the side effects?

Side effects are minimal. Most patients experience some temporary blurring for a few days and can also expect increased light sensitivity for a few weeks. Depending upon the lens used, you may experience halos or rings around lights and glare at night. These side effects may make it more difficult to see while driving at night or to complete tasks in a room with low lighting.

Back to top

 
What are the differences between the lenses?

Traditionally, lenses used in Cataract surgery have been monofocal, allowing the user to see well at a single distance. Patients with monofocal lenses usually choose to have their natural lenses replaced with lenses that allow them to see well at distance and wear reading glasses for up close or intermediate work. Recent advancements, however, have resulted in multifocal and Advanced Lifestyle Lenses or accommodating lens implants. Multifocal lenses contain concentric rings that provide focus at different distances. Accommodating lenses bend and steepen as the eye changes focal points. These new lenses allow the patient to focus at different distances, giving good distance vision, plus improving intermediate or near vision.

Back to top

 
How long have multifocal lens implants been used?

As compared to the monofocal lenses that have been used in Cataract surgery for decades, multifocal lenses are relatively new. Multifocal lenses have been implanted since the mid-1990s with excellent results.

Back to top

 
Does insurance pay for RLE or Cataract surgery?

RLE surgery is an elective procedure not covered by insurance companies. It is more expensive than laser vision correction because it must be performed in an ambulatory surgical center. Since Cataract surgery is a medical procedure, private insurance companies, as well as Medicare, will pay for the surgery and the implantation of a monofocal lens. If you choose an Advanced Lifestyle Lens, however, you will have to pay for the additional cost of the lens upgrade.

Your employer's flexible spending or cafeteria plan may offer tax advantages for RLE or Cataract surgery upgrades. We can help you understand your options and what questions to ask your benefits administrator. In addition, Furlong Vision Correction offers several different payment options to help make RLE surgery and lens upgrade fit your budget.

Back to top

 
Does it treat astigmatism?

Astigmatism is caused by an irregularly shaped cornea and is not affected by replacing the lens. If you are a cataract patient who has astigmatism that is affecting the quality of your vision, you have several treatment options, including a LASIK or PRK procedure twelve to twenty four weeks after RLE Cataract surgery. There are a few intraocular lenses that have been introduced recently to help correct astigmatism, including the Toric Accommodating and Multifocal IOL lens options. Additionally, astigmatism can be treated with the Femto laser during surgery. This technology is ideally suited to treat patients who have cataracts as well as astigmatism, a non-spherical curvature of the cornea. Astigmatism can be partially managed at the time of surgery using either laser-assisted corneal incisions or through the implantation of the Toric intraocular lenses. As this procedure must be precise, the laser is used for the creation of a perfectly round surgical opening, which is critical for the best possible outcome.

Whether using an accommodating intraocular lens to treat astigmatism or using an multifocal intraocular lens to allow both clear distance and near vision, only Laser-Assisted Cataract surgery can consistently create a perfectly round surgical incision to ensure ideal placement of the lens implant. This specialized surgery's results are improved vision, decreased dependence on eyeglasses, faster recovery and less discomfort.

Back to top


What Can I Expect During Cataract or RLE Surgery?

 
How long does it take?

RLE and Cataract surgery takes about fifteen minutes. You'll need to plan to be at the surgery center for approximately two to three hours, however, to accommodate the pre-op preparation and post-op recovery period. You will need to arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.

Back to top

 
Is the procedure painful?

Patients experience virtually no discomfort during RLE or Cataract surgery. The procedure is performed under a local or topical anesthesia (eye drop to numb the eye) and you are given a relaxing sedative intravenously. Mild irritation symptoms for the first twenty four hours are typical. If you experience this, you may use Tylenol or ibuprofen during the first day or two after the procedure.

Back to top


What Can I Expect After Cataract or RLE Surgery?

 
Will I still have to wear glasses?

Whether you will need to wear glasses or contacts after your procedure depends on which type of lens you choose to implant. Patients who choose to implant monofocal lenses will have to wear glasses for either distance or up close work, since monofocal lenses are designed to focus only at one distance. Patients who choose to implant multifocal lenses will have a broader range of vision. According to national clinical trial results for patients who chose Advanced Lifestyle Lenses, seventy five percent never needed to wear glasses again and those who still wore glasses occasionally did not need to wear them eighty percent of the time.

Back to top

 
What precautions do I have to take after surgery?

You will be given a plastic shield to wear immediately after surgery and for the next five nights to protect your eyes while sleeping. For the first month, care should be taken to not touch your eyes for any reason and patients should avoid getting sweat, dust or smoke in their eyes. It is also better to avoid swimming for two weeks, but with care, there is usually no problem with showers.

Back to top

 
If my vision is still not corrected, can I have a re-treatment?

As the lens capsule closes around the new lens implant, the focusing range may change requiring a second surgical procedure to adjust or replace the lens. Additionally, laser surgery to improve the focus is also possible.

Back to top

 
Will RLE surgery increase my chances of getting a cataract?

A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens of your eye. Since RLE surgery removes that clear lens and replaces it with an artificial one, you will never get a cataract.

Back to top

Leah F.
San Francisco, CA

9/29/2017
Yelp

Gotta pay my overdue Yelp gratitude here. Furlong has an all-star staff. Carol specifically is a wonderful human being and professional. They're prepared for every possible scenario. My story varies slightly from others in that I did experience bad halos/glares for roughly 2 weeks following surgery (which is...

Read Full Review

Matt C.
Fullerton, CA

7/29/2017
Yelp

Dr. Furlong was a recommendation from my optometrist. My first visit was fast and easy. My optometrist had already done my dilation so they just needed to take measurements and double check that I was a candidate. Everyone was very professional and friendly. I was nervous about everything but my patient counselor...

Read Full Review

Shilpi R.
Sunnyvale, CA

10/11/2017
Yelp

I recently had LASIK done with Dr. Furlong and it was an amazing experience. I wanted to have LASIK so that I could wake up first thing in the morning and not worry about contacts or glasses! As an optometrist myself I knew the ins and outs a little bit more but everything was on point! Their waiting room is always...

Read Full Review

Gabriel N.
Union City, CA

4/19/2017
Yelp

This has easily been one of the best decisions I have made in my life. After having glasses for most of my life, it's crazy to think I can now wake up and see clearly. I was referred here by my optometrist, Dr. Toy, in early 2016. I came for the free consultation where Dr. Furlong and his staff determined that I...

Read Full Review

Randy M.
San Jose, CA

6/15/2016
Yelp

Five stars.  Why?  I was suffering from rapidly progressing cataracts at the relatively young age of 37.  I was forced to take time off of work until the first surgery was complete.  My left eye had deteriorated from 20/300 in January to "hand motion (I could see light differences and movement only)" the day...

Read Full Review

Himi A.
Fremont, CA

9/30/2017
Yelp

My lasik surgery experience at the center was fabulous! The staff is very friendly, customer service is great! Interaction with Dr. Furlong was directly in the surgery room. Everything was very smooth and the location is super hygienic and has the top technology.

Read Full Review

Betty M.
San Francisco, CA

3/30/2017
Yelp

Just got my lasik surgery done last week by Dr. Furlong, and so far so good! I got referred to Dr. Furlong from my optometrist. A little pricier than competitors, but it's YOUR EYES, not the situation to be looking for a discount. They take a lot of time to make sure that you're comfortable and informed, and the...

Read Full Review

Jennifer H.
Fremont, CA

2/11/2017
Yelp

One of the best decisions I've made in my life! It took me about 2 years before I actually made a decision and not to sound super corny or anything... I should've done it sooner! It's definitely easier saying that knowing my LASIK surgery went well so I completely understand anyone's fear or hesitation with...

Read Full Review

A S.
Sunnyvale, CA

8/17/2017
Yelp

My mom had cataract surgery with with Furlong Vision this past month. It was a smooth experience.  She had one eye done first, followed by the second eye a few weeks later.  She saw Dr. Furlong for consultation in June.  He gave her a detailed exam and performed various scans.  She decided to go with femto laser...

Read Full Review

Leigh B.
Half Moon Bay, CA

8/8/2017
Yelp

Dr.Furlong did PRK for my insanely farsighted eyes in September 2016. I am now seeing 20/20!!! I couldn't be happier with the results. I also appreciated that he was honest when he didn't recommend PRK for my thin corneas... better safe than sorry! Thanks again, best money I could have spent on myself.

Read Full Review

Mike B.
Santa Cruz, CA

4/12/2017
Yelp

I rarely write reviews on Yelp, but for something as important as LASIK, I did a lot of research & visited several places in Silicon Valley. I recommend you do too! You get what you pay for...don't budget on your eyes! You want the best technology & an experienced & personable  Doctor. Dr. Furlong is...

Read Full Review

Yee L.
Palo Alto, CA

4/22/2017
Yelp

Super thorough and professional.  The staff accurately explained exactly what to expect and answered all my questions in an even-handed way with lots of detail about risks and benefits.

Theres no guarantee of results, but turns out my vision was corrected to better than 20/20 and I'm very happy with the results.

Read Full Review

Best Place for LASIK in Silicon ValleyVoted Best LASIK Doctor by Santa Cruz Good TimesTwice named a Premiere Cataract Surgeon by Ocular Surgery NewsAngie's List Super Service Award for high-level customer serviceJefferson Award - the "Nobel Prize" for community and public service for the Furlong Vision Correction Gift of Sight programOfficial laser vision correction and eye surgeon and Legacy Partner of the San Jose Earthquakes