Rediscover Your Eyesight

Replacement lenses after cataract surgery bring dramatic vision improvement.

David Hatala is 70 years old and still working full time. A “big data architect” for a national furniture chain, he remains on the job because he loves his work and finds it riveting.

Headshot of David Hatala

David Hatala

“I retired for a couple of years but got bored out of my mind,” David recounts. “My wife said, You need to get back into it because if you retire, you’ll die. If you keep working, you’ll live longer. So, I took her advice and went back to work. I’ve always found what I do to be fascinating and have always loved it. I enjoy it so much that I wish I was 30 or 40 years younger.”

When he was younger, David learned that he is nearsighted in one eye, farsighted in the other and has astigmatism in both. Astigmatism is an imperfection in the curvature of the cornea that affects how light reflects onto the retina and forms images.

Because of his uneven vision, David has worn glasses since he was a teenager. Several years ago, he began wearing progressive lenses that allow the wearer to adjust for close-up work, middle-distance work and distance vision.

Recently, David noticed subtle changes in his vision that were due to another problem.

“I developed cataracts,” he shares. “I started experiencing issues seeing road signs in the distance. My nighttime vision was also affected. The bright lights of oncoming cars had streaks. There were horrible star patterns and glare.”

David kept his glasses prescription current, and that solved the problem for a while. Gradually, however, he lost the ability to focus – to the point that even corrective lenses couldn’t help his eyesight.

“I enjoy working on cars, and for about 10 years I couldn’t focus under the cars even with my glasses,” David bemoans. “I couldn’t see the detail of the nuts and bolts and how they fit together. And in my job, I do a lot of close-up work on computer monitors, which is very demanding on my eyes. I finally
got computer glasses, which I didn’t like. When I had them on and looked up from the screen, everything was blurry, and that made me nauseated.

“Colors blurred and lost their intensity. White looked amber, like an old photo or a photo taken with a sepia-colored filter to make it look old. My vision kept getting worse.

It went from 20/20 to 20/30 to 20/40. When I finally hit my threshold, I asked my eye doctor if he could fix my vision. He said, Yes, and I said, I’m ready.

David’s eye doctor is Craig E. Berger, MD, a board-certified, fellowship-trained ophthalmic surgeon at Bay Area Eye Institute in Tampa. Outside of his practice, Dr. Berger spent 15 years working as an adjunct assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of South Florida Eye Institute. Through his work in those positions, he developed extensive expertise in cataracts and cataract surgery.

Three In One

“Cataracts are the result of protein buildup in the natural lens of the eye,” Dr. Berger describes. “This buildup prevents light from passing through the lens and makes the vision look cloudy. Symptoms include cloudy or foggy vision, glare, difficulty seeing at night, loss of color intensity and double vision.”

Cataracts are a common problem typically related to aging. More than half of all Americans will have cataracts by age 80. But other factors, such as diabetes, sun exposure, smoking and family history, can cause the condition to develop at a younger age.

“Generally, cataracts become a problem later in life, but they actually start around the age of 40 and progress at different rates in different people,” Dr. Berger expounds. “For this reason, they can occur in younger people as well.”

Treatment for cataracts involves the surgical removal of the affected natural lens and its replacement with a clear, synthetic intraocular lens, or IOL. Cataract surgery is generally performed on an outpatient basis on one eye at a time, typically a few weeks apart.

“I can’t believe how vivid colors are now and how brilliant the contrast is.” – David

Before recommending a replacement IOL for David, Dr. Berger met with him and described the advantages and disadvantages of various lens options. The doctor also reviewed David’s lifestyle and activities to find the best lens match for him.

“I always consider the patient’s activities, hobbies, the type of work they do and their visual requirements before I recommend a specific lens,” Dr. Berger elaborates. “Then I do a complete eye exam. I look at the patient’s tear film, the retina, the cornea and the optic nerve. I also look for astigmatism.

“I recommend implants based on all of that information, and I encourage patients to take the time to gain a clear understanding of the benefits of each of the intraocular lenses before making a choice. It is important to note that no one lens is ideal for everyone. Lenses come in many sizes, with a variety of features and benefits.”

For David, Dr. Berger recommended a new trifocal IOL called the PanOptix®, which provides clear vision at all three focal points. It virtually eliminates the need for glasses following cataract surgery.

“David also had astigmatism in both eyes, so we chose the toric version of the PanOptix lens because toric IOLs correct astigmatism,” Dr. Berger details. “This lens choice provided David’s best chance to become glasses-free following his surgery.”

Fabulous Finish

Dr. Berger performed cataract surgery on David’s left eye on June 15, 2020, and his right eye seven days later. Not long after the procedures, David realized a dramatic change in his vision.

David Hatala standing by his car and holding his dog.

The PanOptix trifocal lens enables David to focus on every nut and bolt in the cars he’s working on.

“It’s been just incredible, like rediscovering eyesight and colors,” David raves. “The color fading is gone. White is white; it’s no longer amber. I can’t believe how vivid colors are now and how brilliant the contrast is. For me, that was a big improvement.

“Since the surgery, I haven’t used the computer glasses one time. I look at five or six feet of computer monitors in one workstation, and I can see them all. I love it!
“My vision is excellent now. Just this past weekend, I was working on one of my cars and I could focus on everything.

It was fabulous, like I was 35 again. Because these PanOptix lenses are trifocal, I can see whether something is two inches, three feet or 30 yards away – without glasses.

“I’m an engineer by trade. Dr. Berger is an engineer as a medical professional, and I appreciate that. He’s very exact and detailed. He understands how things work and he explains it to me when I ask. I’ve got immense respect for Dr. Berger and his talent as a surgeon and ophthalmologist. I absolutely recommend him.”

©FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Jordan Pysz. js
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    • Bay Area Eye Institute

      Bay Area Eye Institute understands that there are many ophthalmologists and optometrists in the Tampa bay area to choose from. Dr. Berger’s practice focuses on patient satisfaction. His philosophy is to put the patient first, provide phys... Read More

    • Craig E. Berger, MD

      Craig E. Berger, MD, is a board-certified, fellowship-trained ophthalmic surgeon. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Florida and earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of South Florid... Read More