Cataracts are one of the leading causes of vision loss in the world. Studies estimate that at least 50% of patients aged 80 and above will have already had a cataract removed or will have one developing. Cataracts are often thought of as an unavoidable part of the aging process, but fortunately, there are treatments that can help patients to retain their vision. Not only retain but improve their vision. Cataract surgery can correct near, far and astigmatism with less than a 15 min operation.

We are delighted to be able to diagnose and treat cataracts at our eye care center in Santa Barbara, CA.

​​​​​​​What are cataracts?

The natural lens of the eye is made up of several substances – primarily water and protein. Normally the proteins are evenly dispersed so that light can pass through the eye and reach the retina. When this happens, the retina sends a signal through the optic nerve to our brain, which tells us what we can see. In patients with a cataract, the proteins change so that they are no longer evenly spread, and instead, they clump together and cause opaque patches that light can’t pass through properly. This creates the effect of looking through frosted glass.

Most cataracts develop when the normal aging process or injury triggers the proteins to change. However, there is also a range of other factors which could increase your risk of developing cataracts, including:

- Excessive exposure to sunlight

- family history

- Diabetes

- Obesity

- Previous eye surgery

- Smoking

- Arthritis

- Taking certain medications (especially steroids)

If you are in a high-risk group for cataracts, you could see them developing earlier than your senior years. Today because of the improved surgery technique, lens surgery is a refractive procedure, like LASIK, for the population above 50 that wants to see both distance and near.

Symptoms of cataracts

Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes. If both eyes are affected, the rate at which they are may vary. Most symptoms develop gradually and can include the following:

- Blurred vision

- Sensitivity to bright light

- Glare

- Difficulty seeing in gloomy or dark conditions

- Colors appear faded and not as bright as they should

Although these are signs of cataracts, the same symptoms can also be present in a number of other eye conditions, so it is important that you get your eyes checked out by our eyecare team at your earliest convenience.


​​​​​​​Treating cataracts

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for cataracts, although many people find that wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses and using brighter lighting in their home can help them to manage their condition day-to-day in the early stages. However, eventually, their vision will become so impaired that these solutions prove fruitless. Fortunately, there is one treatment that can provide a successful resolution to the condition – cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in the U.S. and has a very high success rate. Studies have shown around 90% of patients will experience better vision following their cataract surgery. Most outcomes can help free these patients from glasses and contacts full time.

Cataract surgery is very straightforward, takes less than 15 min usually and involves minimal discomfort since local anesthetic is used. The process involves removing the cloudy natural lens and replacing it with an artificial alternative. Since every patient is unique, we know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to lens replacement. With the new state of the art IOL master 700 (only one in SB) the power of the lens, we predict before surgery is more accurate. Each patient is assessed for their specific ocular needs, and we use this information to recommend the best type of intraocular lens for the occupation and hobbies. This is all decided at the consultation stage.

Once the natural lens is removed and before the artificial lens is put in its place, Dr. Katsev does a technique that rechecks the power and astigmatisms needed (ORA is an aberometer for the operating room). All these steps are done to produce the best post-op results with less need for glasses. Patients may be given a shield (but no patch) to wear over their eyes to protect it during the early part of the healing process. You will be given very specific instructions, but most activities can be resumed within 3 days. You will be given Dr. Katsev’s personal cell phone for all postoperative patients if questions.

Dr. Douglas Katsev’s explanations of intraocular lens choices:

Panoptix is the first FDA-approved trifocal lens implant available in the United States. PanOptix is designed to deliver decreased reliance on glasses for near, intermediate, and distance vision compared to a monofocal lens. In the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) trials, 99% of patients stated they would choose the same lens again. The lens implant is also available in a toric version for patients with astigmatism. It has Enlighten Optical Technology which optimizes computer-distance vision without compromising close-up or far-away vision. Panoptix allows 88% of the light to transmit to the retina through a 3 mm pupil size which allows for better vision regardless of pupil size or lighting conditions.

This exciting new technology allows a person to see distant, near, and intermediate objects without glasses more often than other lenses I have used. It also corrects most astigmatism as well as near and farsightedness. For the first time, we are able to restore vision so that glasses are not needed for almost all tasks. By directing light in differing amounts peripherally, the light halo can be noted especially at night but is easily tolerated by most patients. I have been very satisfied with the results of my patients here at Santa Barbara Eyecare.

Accommodative lens implant TRULIGN™ and Crystalens®

It is known as the Crystalens (Trulign if it corrects astigmatism). This unique lens design allows some movement within the eye to focus on both distance and intermediate. The Crystalens® design allows you to enjoy a larger range of vision for most activities, I find this lens very useful in previous RK patients as well as some former LASIK patients that do better with a single focus lens. The key take away is that these lenses help minimize halos and glare during night time. This is very beneficial when someone is driving at night as halos and glare are more apparent.

Multifocal technology

Tecnis Multifocal lens will help you see in low light and far distances. The advanced implantable lens corrects the need for reading glasses and restores vision after cataract-removal surgery. The near vision I have found excellent in most of my patients. In FDA studies, 94% of patients say they would choose it again as they enjoy an exceptional full range of vision. Since the original FDA studies, they improved the lens design. The lens now comes in different degrees of near ability and allow us to taper the near needs to the patient. It now has the ability to correct astigmatism allowing superior distance vision as well as near. Tecnis Symfony multifocal lens also restores high-quality vision and depth focus with fewer side effects. The Tecnis Multifocal lens has Extended Depth of Focus (EDOF), treats astigmatism, limits glare and halo, but like accommodative lens, reading up close can be more limited in my experience. Santa Barbara Eyecare recommends this lens for more active people that close reading is not as important without glasses.

If you are concerned about cataracts and would like more information, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact the Santa Barbara Eyecare expert eyecare team today.

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