Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions2020-10-07T15:23:27-07:00

Cataract Surgery FAQs

Dr. Shaun Brierly has performed many thousands of cataract surgeries in his 20+ years of practice. He earned “Top Doctor in Ophthalmology” as nominated and voted by his peers and awarded by Sonoma Magazine in 2019. Book a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Brierly, learn more about cataract surgery, and see frequently asked questions.

About The Practice, Insurance, COVID-19

What has Copper Eye Surgery done to reduce the chance of coronavirus spread?2020-09-30T14:41:36-07:00

Patient safety is particularly important in age groups who pursue cataract surgery. Fortunately, Copper Eye Surgery’s heavy focus on patient-centered medical care translates directly to patient safety.

  • We are a private specialty office that sees one patient at a time, which allows us to easily disinfect all patient contact chairs, machines and instruments between use.
  • We require all patients with any ill symptoms to postpone their visit. We provide masks (at no extra charge) for those who arrive without one.
  • We utilize frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer at all points in the office. You will not see our staff walking around wearing the same pair of gloves, spreading contaminants everywhere.
  • While HEPA filter air purifiers have not been shown to filter out coronavirus particles, the water droplets that virus particles travel in can be partially removed from air circulation. On the chance there may be some small benefit, we have purchased multiple HEPA air purifiers to constantly filter office air.
  • Since we only see one patient at a time, we don’t need to use the parking lot as a waiting room in the desert heat. Come in and cool off.
  • While Copper Eye Surgery normally encourages all friend and family decision helpers join you at your consultation, we ask that patients consider the safety of others and limit their companions to a single caregiver during this pandemic.
Why would I not use my insurance for cataract surgery?2020-09-30T14:44:35-07:00

To obtain an unbiased opinion and clear explanation of your cataract care plan, with realistic pros and cons that are not influenced by preauthorization or gatekeeper tactics. To expand your cataract surgery options, including dropless approaches. To discuss goals and fears with your actual surgeon. To potentially have surgery on both cataracts in one day, thereby allowing more rapid return to hobbies or work. To not ask your insurance company or the Federal government for permission to have your cataracts assessed or removed. To be treated as a person, not as a data point in a “relative value unit” equation.

How much of Copper Eye Surgery is owned by outside private equity investors?2020-06-12T08:46:47-07:00


Do you accept insurance? What about Medicare?2020-10-07T15:11:44-07:00

Copper Eye Surgery is an exclusively cash-pay practice where you enjoy transparent pricing. We don’t bill Medicare or private insurance for our services.

What is your practice philosophy or Mission Statement?2020-10-08T12:52:48-07:00

To provide patient-centered medical and surgical eye care.

What Our Patients Say

“I feel confident I was in good hands”

“I recently saw Dr. Brierly for a complete exam for cataract surgery. It was the most complete exam I’ve ever had and all of my questions were answered in detail. I feel confident that I was in good hands. The receptionist was also very nice.”

– Google Reviews, Real Patient Review*

Cataract Surgery, Consultations, What To Expect

My loved one has cataracts and cognitive issues. Do you have experience caring for this population?2020-06-12T08:00:13-07:00

Yes. Significant experience.

What’s included in the consultation?2020-09-30T14:00:11-07:00

At Copper Eye Surgery, you will spend most of your time directly with Dr. Brierly, rather than with intermediaries. Your cash pay cataract consultation includes a thorough dilated eye examination, intraocular lens measurements, advanced corneal topography analysis, state of the art ocular coherence tomography retina scanning, and extensive review of these tests with a conversation about your vision goals. Dr. Brierly greatly values open and honest communication, transparency, and patient empowerment. To that end, every patient leaves Copper Eye Surgery with full records of their testing and consultation without having to ask or sign additional forms. If you decide to have Dr. Brierly perform your cataract surgery, you will know the cost of the operation prior to scheduling the procedure.

What if I’ve been told my cataract issue is complex?2020-06-12T08:03:06-07:00

Dr. Brierly specializes in complex cases when it comes to cataract surgery, and many of his fellow eye surgeons refer patients to him. You can further discuss your unique case during a consultation or contact Copper Eye Surgery now for more information.

Does Copper Eye Surgery use advanced testing technology?2020-09-30T13:59:10-07:00

Yes. Dr. Brierly requires testing instruments to meet two strict criteria for use at Copper Eye Surgery.

  • Does the machine provide the most accurate information using the latest technology?
  • Does it enhance patient comfort with short testing time relative to other state of the art options?
Will my loved one be rushed out the door after a cursory evaluation because he/she is difficult to examine or has difficulty communicating?2020-09-30T13:57:54-07:00

No. Dr. Brierly has noticed that both patients and doctors suffer from the time constraints imposed by the standard insurance reimbursed medical model that emphasizes high volume efficiency care. The necessity of quickly seeing a huge number of patients can encourage normally attentive and caring doctors to act uncharacteristically curt and abrupt with patients who require extra time and resources. Copper Eye Surgery was founded with the goal of offering patient-centered cataract surgery experiences.

Will I need to wear glasses after cataract surgery?2020-09-30T14:24:47-07:00

Maybe. Cataract surgery removes the cloudy lens in your eye and replaces it with a new clear lens implant that is customized for your goals. Most people choose to either see well at distance without glasses or see well up close without glasses. There are optical methods to focus both near and far with cataract surgery, though they come with trade-offs. Some patients consider these trade-offs worthwhile, while others find them unacceptable. A thorough evaluation and consultation with your surgeon is crucial.

Should I get a second opinion before proceeding with cataract surgery?2020-06-12T08:45:50-07:00

You’ve taught your children to obtain at least 3 bids before signing a construction contract.  You interview lawyers and you thoroughly vet options before launching ventures with business partners. Competent and honest contractors, lawyers and investors are not offended when you explore alternatives. Neither are competent and honest surgeons. Dr. Brierly is happy to provide you with a second opinion cataract consult, and he encourages you to feel comfortable seeking another opinion after consulting with him. In fact, Copper Eye Surgery automatically provides every patient full records of all testing and evaluation.  Informed patients make better decisions.

When I go to the doctor, I never “fit” into any of the machines and was recently told that cataract surgery would be risky because of my body shape. Are you able to care for me?2020-06-12T08:00:27-07:00

Most likely. Typically, sitting straight upright is required for office testing but cataract surgery requires laying down flat on your back.  Patients who require wheelchairs and gurneys are often unable to fit into standard testing machines, and patients with back and neck issues are often unable to lie flat. Copper Eye Surgery has invested in portable versions of office testing equipment that can even acquire pre-surgical measurements in gurney-bound patients. Dr. Brierly also enjoys the creative positioning challenge of operating with patients who are unable to lie flat.

What is astigmatism?2020-09-30T14:21:31-07:00

Astigmatism is an optical distortion that prevents vision from focusing crisply at one point.  Simple forms of astigmatism occur when the front of the eye is shaped like a rugby ball or an American football rather than a tennis or soccer ball. Interestingly, astigmatism can sometimes benefit vision by partially expanding the focus range – especially if it’s a small amount of “with the rule” astigmatism.

Most people on the planet have at least 0.25-0.5 diopters of astigmatism, whether or not they normally wear glasses or contacts. In fact, people with 0.5-0.75 diopters of astigmatism enjoy the benefits of their astigmatism when they realize they can drive and use a computer without glasses when their friends no longer can do so. On the other hand, the blurred vision from significant astigmatism is not worth the expanded focus range.

Fortunately, glasses, contact lenses, refractive laser surgery, and toric intraocular lens implants can all minimize significant astigmatism. Not all forms of astigmatism can be corrected by all of these options.

Astigmatism analysis is one reason why a detailed cornea topographic evaluation is crucial for determining the optimal cataract surgery approach. Every cataract consultation at Copper Eye Surgery includes this important testing.

Can I upgrade my artificial lens?2020-09-30T14:16:51-07:00

Yes. There are different types of premium artificial lenses, including the multifocal intraocular lens (IOL) for an extended range of focus and the toric IOL to minimize astigmatism. Lenses that combine both multifocal and toric benefits are available for patients with significant astigmatism. There is a price increase for patients who opt for a premium lens. The actual cataract surgery procedure with a premium intraocular lens is no more complicated than cataract surgery with a monofocal lens, but the preoperative testing, evaluation, and conversation is much more time-consuming. Dr. Brierly feels that patients deserve extensive preoperative testing, a personal evaluation, and time-consuming consultation in order to decide on the best lens implant option.

What is monovision?2020-09-30T14:22:22-07:00

Monovision is a way to eliminate glasses by having your dominant eye focused at distance and your nondominant eye focused at near. For decades, people have used contact lenses this way to eliminate reading glasses after age 40. This is also the method by which people over 40 get rid of glasses with LASIK surgery. Monovision can be targeted after cataract surgery with monofocal lens implants – and there is no additional cost at Copper Eye Surgery for patients who do not have significant astigmatism. Patients with significant astigmatism may benefit from monovision combined with toric intraocular lens implants.

Lenses, Lasik, and Astigmatism

What are multifocal lens implants?2020-09-30T14:18:32-07:00

Multifocal, extended depth of focus, extended range of focus, panoptic, or “accommodating” intraocular lens implants attempt to focus vision at distance and near with less dependence on glasses or contacts. These lenses are a fabulous option for some patients who desire glasses independence, and Copper Eye Surgery is happy to implant them for an additional fee. Please note that these lenses do have downsides.

Patients with irregular astigmatism or significant dry eyes often experience blurry vision with these lenses. Multifocal lenses can decrease contrast sensitivity and may cause nighttime glare, and they are contraindicated in patients with a wide variety of ocular conditions. Ocular coherence tomography (OCT) of the retina and corneal topography analysis is very important when discussing an extended range of focus lens implants. Whether or not you choose to consult with Copper Eye Surgery, make sure you have the proper analyses and conversations with your surgeon when choosing between lens implant options.

Why did my doctor say I can’t have LASIK but I can have “cataract surgery” even though I don’t have cataracts?2020-06-12T09:33:28-07:00

To correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism, LASIK requires removing some of your cornea with a laser. If the cornea is too thin to safely perform LASIK or PRK, an option is to replace the natural eye lens with a new lens.  This clear lens extraction (CLE), or refractive lens exchange (RLE), is exactly the same as cataract surgery – but the lens removed has not yet developed into a cataract.

What are toric lens implants?2020-09-30T14:19:20-07:00

Toric intraocular lens implants are “premium” monofocal lenses used to minimize astigmatism during cataract surgery. For patients with significant astigmatism, toric lens implants can potentially provide clearer vision. Copper Eye Surgery offers toric lenses for an additional fee. Not all patients will benefit from a toric lens implant, and patients with highly irregular astigmatism may notice vision degradation. Corneal topography analysis is extremely important when evaluating patients for toric lens implants. Dr. Brierly utilizes this data and spends the consultation time necessary to determine whether a toric lens is desirable for you.

Are cataract surgery and LASIK the same thing?2020-06-12T08:59:57-07:00

No. Both procedures involve the eyes and help improve vision, but that’s where the similarities end. Cataract surgery removes your cloudy, hazy, opacified natural lens and replaces it with a new clear lens implant. This new lens implant is customized to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism. LASIK reshapes the surface cornea to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism.

What’s the “standard” artificial lens used in cataract surgery?2020-09-30T14:23:37-07:00

A monofocal intraocular lens (IOL) is the standard lens implant used in the vast majority of cataract surgeries throughout the world and is the lens included in Copper Eye Surgery’s standard price. These lenses provide the clearest, most crisp vision possible in people who do not have astigmatism.  They cannot correct astigmatism and they cannot focus in multiple areas at the same time. For example, they cannot focus for both reading and driving without glasses – unless you choose the monovision technique.

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