Can Cataracts Return after Surgery?

  • A
  • A
  • A
  • Change Text Size
Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2018 by Dr. Robert Mack
Posterior Capsular Opacification

If you are considering cataract surgery, you likely have many questions in regards to the procedure, recovery phase and results. Among the most common questions the board certified eye doctors at Mack Eye Center field from prospective patients is, “Can cataracts return after surgery?” The short answer is no, cataracts cannot return after surgery. However, a fraction of patients experience hazy or cloudy vision even after successful cataract surgery. This condition is called posterior capsular opacification, commonly referred to as “secondary cataracts.”

The eye doctors are Mack Eye Center discuss the topic in detail in this blog post.

Cataracts Cannot Grow Back After Surgery

Cataract surgery involves removing the eye’s natural lens that has become clouded with a cataract. The natural lens is enclosed in a clear membrane, called the lens capsule. In order to access the natural lens, the anterior portion of the capsule must also be removed. The posterior portion of the lens capsule is left intact and an artificial IOL is placed in front of it, restoring clear vision. Artificial intraocular lenses (IOLs) cannot form cataracts, meaning once a cataract is removed, it cannot grow back.

About Posterior Capsular Opacification

Posterior capsular opacification (PCO) occurs when the remaining back portion of the lens capsule has lost its clarity and acquires a grayish haze. Because PCO produces similar symptoms to cataracts (e.g., hazy vision, light sensitivity, glare, halos, difficulty reading), many patients assume that their cataracts have returned. PCO can occur in the weeks, months or even years after cataract surgery.

Fortunately, the condition can be corrected in a quick and simple outpatient procedure called posterior capsulotomy (YAG). The procedure involves creating a small opening in the center of the lens capsule, allowing light to properly enter the eye and in turn restoring clear vision. Posterior capsulotomy is safe and very precise; it can effectively improve cloudy vision caused by PCO without affecting other parts of the eye. Most patients are able to resume their normal routine almost immediately and notice visual improvement one to two days after the procedure.

To learn more about cataracts or PCO, please schedule a consultation with one of the experienced eye doctors at Mack Eye Center. Contact us today to book your appointment.