Being diagnosed with cataracts can be a cause for concern. The thought of undergoing surgery to correct them can also be concerning. We get it, no one likes the thought of having eye surgery, no matter how clear their vision will be after. When considering cataract surgery, many people fear that their cataracts will grow back and they’ll need to endure yet another surgery to get rid of them. Well, that’s not exactly the case. Let’s discuss!
Can I Get Cataracts Twice?
In a word, no. But that isn’t the whole story. Cataracts form when the proteins that make up the natural lens begin to break down and clump together. This causes that foggy film over the lens, and forms into a cataract. During cataract surgery, the natural cataract-affected lens is removed entirely and replaced with an artificial lens. So, it is actually impossible to get another cataract.
All of that said, there is a secondary condition that can occur after cataract surgery that has extremely similar symptoms. This is often called after-cataract, but is medically referred to as a posterior capsular opacity.
What Is a Posterior Capsular Opacity?
Time for a mini anatomy lesson! Inside your eye, located behind the pupil and iris, there is a natural crystalline lens that helps your eyes focus. You already knew that, because that’s the same lens that gets removed during cataract surgery. What many people don’t realize, however, is that this lens is housed in a thin membrane called the “capsule”.
The capsule membrane’s job is to keep the natural lens in its proper position. When the cataract-affected natural lens is removed, the front portion of this capsule must be removed to gain access to the cataract. The back portion of the capsule is left in place to support the new, artificial lens implant after cataract surgery.
Sometimes, the back portion of the capsule that was left in place will start to opacify, or fog up. This is called a posterior capsular opacity, and the symptoms are strikingly similar to cataract symptoms. But it isn’t a cataract.
How Is Posterior Capsular Opacity Treated?
Posterior capsular opacity is treated through a non-invasive procedure called the YAG Laser Posterior Capsulotomy. This procedure uses a YAG laser to polish the capsule clear, allowing light to come through and restore vision.
Here at Nielsen Eye Center, we care about the quality of our patient’s lives. We want your post-cataract surgery vision to be the best vision of your life. If you are experiencing symptoms of posterior capsular opacity, be sure to come back in and see our expert cataract surgeons at Nielsen Eye Center. We can have you seeing again in no time! If you are in the Boston area, call us or schedule your appointment online!