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Can Cataracts Return after Cataract Surgery?

September 19, 2018

Anyone that commits the time to cataract surgery and recovery understandably wants to know whether the results are permanent. The experienced cataract surgeons at OCLI Vision are often asked whether cataracts can grow back after surgery. The simple, no-frills answer is, no, a cataract cannot come back. But the complete explanation is a bit more complicated. Read on as we address the answer to this query further.

Impossible for Cataracts to Return after Surgery

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, often related to the natural effects of the aging process. During cataract surgery, a tiny self-sealing incision is made in the eye and an opening created in the lens capsule, or membrane that holds the cloudy lens in place. A laser or ultrasonic probe is used to fragment the lens, making it easier to remove the pieces from the eye. The cataract surgeon works carefully to preserve the lens capsule so that it can hold the artificial lens that replaces the cataract-diseased lens. Cataracts cannot grow back because artificial lenses cannot develop cloudy or opaque areas.

However, what can happen in the months or years following cataract surgery is that the lens capsule becomes cloudy due to the growth of certain cells on the inside the capsule. The term for this is posterior capsular opacification, and it happens in a small percentage of cataract patients. Posterior capsular opacification can cause symptoms that are consistent with cataracts — primarily, blurry, hazy vision. Glare, starbursts and halos around lights are also common. Sometimes posterior capsular opacification is casually referred to as “secondary cataracts.” Patients that aren’t aware of posterior capsular opacification may assume that their cataracts have come back.

Treating Posterior Capsular Opacification

Luckily, eye doctors can easily treat posterior capsular opacification and restore clear vision. Using a YAG laser, the doctor focuses the light energy at the capsule to remove the hazy portions without affecting any other areas of the eye. Once the hazy or opaque areas have been removed, they cannot return.

Treating posterior capsular opacification takes only a few minutes and can be performed in an office setting. Patients can resume their normal activities almost immediately after the procedure, and normally notice an improvement in vision within a few hours.

Contact Our Cataract Surgeons

If you would like more information about cataracts or “secondary cataracts,” call OCLI Vision at 833-509-6254 or request an appointment online.

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