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My Symfony Lens Experience

Hi all,

This forum helped me a bit in making a decision regarding cataract surgery so I thought I’d give a little bit back and share my story.

TLDR: Two Symfony lenses.  Both eyes are 20/30 on the chart.  I read an internet chart at home 8 of 9 letters at 20/20.  My close vision is good from about 16 to 18” out and my monitor vision is fantastic.  I’m less than 2 weeks out on the second eye and there are times I’m amazed at how clear things are.  

The beginning

My story begins at 52 when for the first time in my life I got glasses.  I’d been getting by with enlarging font on the computer screen, altering lens colors for low-light, sitting close to screens, etc.  Honestly, I knew my vision wasn’t great but I was just compensating and moving on.

One day I was driving, it was foggy and I realized I couldn’t see well at all.  3 months later I saw an optometrist.  It was a really pleasant experience, he chewed me out for not getting there sooner (he worked with my father and my father has MD and glaucoma), wouldn’t answer questions and was pretty much a ****.

But I got glasses.  As an aside, the eye shop is brutally priced but you probably know that.  You can shave a ⅓ off the price, get the same service, maybe better even, by going online.  It’s not like they cut the lens in-house.

Anyways, the one thing the guy mentioned was that I had light cataracts.

Well, they grew fast if they were light.  Inside of 6 months a single point of light turned into a circle with 6 dots.  I drove one-night about a mile and had to do it with one eye closed.  My insurance meant one eye exam a year, so I didn’t drive at night for 6 months.

When I got my next exam the Optometrist basically doubled the prescription in my right eye and to be honest, it was better but inside of three months I was having trouble seeing people across the street (I tested at 20/80 right and 20/70 left, in glasses).  I probably shouldn't have been driving although I didn’t feel unsafe, really even at night.  

Finding a surgeon

At this point I realized I needed to do something but I didn’t know a thing about anything and started reading and contacting doctors.  The first doctor I was pointed to had literally graduated med school sometime last year.  So, she was out.  I’m too young to not have an experienced surgeon.
By the time I got to a second doctor I’d heard about multifocal lenses.  He immediately poo-pooed the idea telling me that I’d get haloes, probably wouldn’t like them, and so and so forth.  He never asked me what I wanted for my vision.  He was at the same place the first optometrist was at so apparently that place is filled with buttheads.  They were close and would have been much easier to get to than the doctor I eventually went with was.

At this point I started the heavy research.  I looked at all of the lens options and realized that if the world could be perfect I’d want all 3 zones.  I didn’t need close-up but I run up and down hills and my watch mattered so I wanted to see that.  Basically, I wanted to see everything but tiny little font on little things, which left one choice: Symfony.

Next, I started searching for surgeons.  In my geographical area there was, well, there was one (later I found a second but by then I was committed) if I didn’t want to go more than 50 miles.  Thing is, it turns out he’s been doing cutting edge lenses for years.  When I spoke with him it was all about the Symfony lens, and well, why would you want anything else?  Maybe to save $8,000 when all is said and done? He was a salesman but he was also right.

Anyways, by then I knew I was going to do it, I do have the money and if everything goes right I’m going to get 30+ years out of these things.  It’s a bargain.  And if I was going to do it, this was the guy even if he has the personality of a rock sometimes.

Thing is, they did it right.  I was tested for dry-eye and put on a 3 month regimen to get ready.  At the time I didn’t understand why dry-eye mattered (measurements for one thing) although I did the required daily steps, except the compresses which I usually missed one of the two times.  So, it was

Blink 4/day
Xiidra 2/day ($40/month prescription).
Hydroeye supplement (rip off but I did it at $40/mo amazon).
Avenova 2/day
Compresses 2/day (tended to only get one/day done)
Eye massage 2/day

For 3 months.

When it came time for surgery I had to roll the big meds into the fray.  They were


I got a bargain by joining a Bausch and Laumb program.  Signing up was a bear as I could barely read the form.  Hint: People buying this stuff probably can’t read 6-point font.

Part 2 Incoming
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Avatar universal

The first eye done was my right eye and all I remember is “I’m going to make you feel good” and waking up in the office.  Technically, I kind of remember him in the eye but not really and I don’t remember feeling good.

I was driven home and had all kinds of special effects.  Glare reflected into circles and I had giant haloes that night (10’ and 20’ haloes).  I was totally freaked out and got on the doctor about it at the day-after visit because I couldn’t even go outside much less drive.

Well, about 5:00 that day things cleared (I was really, really dilated) and I was stunned.  I couldn’t just see.  I could really, really, really see.  Technically, they had already cleared because once I got back to my father’s (I stayed there the night of the surgery) I got in my car and drove home.  I was dangerous not because I couldn’t see but because I was staring at things and thinking “wow”.

I took the next day off and had one scary experience.  The meds, particularly Lotemax are really goopy.  I had so much goop that a big chunk gathered on my eye lash and was blocking my vision.  I thought, “oh crap, the lens moved or something” but it was just the goop

So, all told, 1 day surgery, 1 day post op, 1 day to recover and back to work on Friday.

I did one thing stupid for the second eye surgery.  I drove in the dark to my fathers and since the appointment was early it was dark.  The freeway was OK but I forgot the dilating drops and had to go back.  This meant driving about a mile through a town I’m only semi-familiar with.  This was a very bad idea.  I missed the freeway on ramp because I had one good eye with flares (more in a bit) and one bad eye that needed glasses I didn’t have (I broke them the day of the surgery somehow).  I didn’t really need glasses to see at that point, but in the dark, in a city I didn’t know, well, I sure needed something.  I should have parked on the side of the road and waited for the sun to rise.  I didn’t and like I told someone, “there were drunks on the road safer than I was”, but I’m here writing this.

My left eye was basically the same as the right except for one difference, I got a giant floater in it.  I kept thinking I was seeing flies, or bugs, or birds, and jerking my head.  Fortunately, it went away.  I still have some minor floaters but I had those before the surgery.


I'm 1-½ weeks after the second surgery and it's mostly good, better than expected but it’s not all perfect.

I mentioned above that I hit all 3 zones (16”, mid and long).  I’m amazed at how well I see sometimes when everything clicks just right with the light.  Tree’s are amazing but I knew that would happen because it happened with my first pair of glasses.  Thing is, this time, there was no adjustment the way it was with glasses when I first put them on.  I’m not stepping over curbs or anything weird.  It worked 100% out of the gate.

One interesting thing is that when it comes to sunglasses colored lenses don’t matter nearly as much now.  Even the Oakley Prizm lenses, which were lifesavers for awhile really don’t matter much.  My vision is good enough they don’t matter.  I am finding that polarized lenses work better than non-polarized lenses (things are really bright) although I don’t have any black / grey non-polarized lens so a 9% non-polarized lens might be fine.  I picked up a pair of Serengeti’s to replace my beat up Maui Jim’s and they’ve been good.

Another surprising effect is the color white.  Who knew there was so much white in the world.  I had to clean the bathtub because I could see all the grime now.

One effect that I hadn’t counted on was the change in vividness or richness.  I’m not certain if it was the yellowing or an effect of the lens.  I had a lot more yellowing than I realized once I could compare a good eye with a cataract eye so the richness of color might have been that.  I’ve also read, I think, that the symfony can cause a loss in this area.  I have no complaints!  This trade was well worth and I’d have made it in a heartbeat and it may not even be a trade.  I may be seeing things the way they are now and I’m not colorblind by any means.

Night Vision

I’m giving this one its own section because it’s a big deal.  One reason you get this lens is to not have haloes.  Well, I don’t, but I’ve sure got spiderwebs and flares.  The effect isn’t bad close up out to about 100 yards.  At range I get flares, or spikes, especially from LED headlights or headlights with funky designs (it’s not so bad with old cars and a single headlight).  Those tend to just be kind of lumpy, or kind of a double vision effect around the light.

I also get spiderwebs on brake lights and some colored lights.  Tail lights are fine but when the brake triggers it’s a spiderweb.  It’s pretty freaky when you first see it.  LED’s spiderweb too,  really big ones.

But it’s a little bit weird because in low-light they aren’t there.  It’s just when it’s 100% dark and my night vision at the same time is fantastic.  I just can’t process these kinds of light.  I’m told I’ll adapt but we’ll have to wait and see because it’s also got to the lens too.

One other note.  I live in a relatively sedate city after 9:00 PM.  The other night I drove to the store and it was OK, not good, but doable.  I didn’t feel unsafe but this is coming from a guy who probably shouldn’t have been on the road for much of the last year.  There’s no way I’d drive on a 5-lane freeway, or downtown Vegas, or any downtown, yet, at night, but I think for the basics, getting to and from work in the Winter, late night trips to the grocery store, it’ll be fine.  The flares, or spikes, are definitely more manageable today than a few days ago.

Putting it simply, I don’t have the night vision I’d have gotten with a monofocal, yet.  I may but I’m not holding my breath.

Should you do it?

I can’t answer that.  I have very good insurance, .gov worker, and because I went the premium lens route, the cost was $3K/lens, possibly another $1K in surgery costs and another few hundred in meds and supplements.  I can afford it although it hurts a little bit right now.

The thing is, I didn’t want to wear glasses.  I go up and down hills, wear sunglasses and just didn’t want to have to deal with bifocals (and the doctors and the lens delivered that).  I have no regrets and I can Uber if I need a night ride to go partying (which I should probably do anyway).

For me it was the right choice.  No, in a way, it’s kind of a miracle when you think about it.  I have, in effect, absolutely fantastic contact lenses for the rest of my life if they hold up.

For another person, maybe straight monofocals, because the insurance covers 100% would make sense.  Maybe you need good close up so a monofocal or monovision works.  You may have other lens options, there’s some really interesting stuff coming in the future years.  If you want to drive at night, I’d give these lenses a serious, second, third and fourth thought, just like I would any multifocal lens.

For me, like I said, no regrets at all.
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I sort of feel weird writing out here, given everything that's going on, and I have no idea if anyone will read this besides John Hagan, but I wanted to finish this off.

I had my two week follow up today and my vision follows:

Left Eye: 20/50 distance (not crystal clear), 20/20 near (I could read the smallest reading test and it was crystal clear).
Right Eye: 20/25 distance, 20/30 (maybe 25) on the reading.  I could make out the smallest, if I really worked at it.

The optometrist who did the follow up was somewhat perplexed by this, because, well I have monovision, and I don't think it was by design.  It seems I hit the jackpot because if you had asked me the perfect outcome this is it.  I have theories but I'm not a doctor so I'll leave them out of here.  Honestly, I'm not sure they know.

Regarding the night vision, there seems to be 3 options.  Apparently, there are drops that can help with this.  Then, I could try turning on the inside lights which should constrict the pupil a bit and may help.  Finally, there's time.  I guess I'll find out and report back in 6 months.

Long story short, as before, still thrilled with the outcome.
177275 tn?1511755244
Thanks for you post.
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177275 tn?1511755244
Thanks for your post and insights
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177275 tn?1511755244
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177275 tn?1511755244
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