Can Cataracts Come Back?

During cataract surgery, your cataract surgeon will remove your natural lens, which has become cloudy and hardened due to cataracts. Your natural lens is replaced by an artificial lens, known as an IOL or intraocular lens.

An IOL cannot tarnish or change structure like your natural lens can with time. However, some people experience symptoms similar to those of cataracts after surgery.

Keep reading to learn more about cataracts, including whether or not cataracts can come back after cataract surgery!

What Are Cataracts?

A cataract refers to the normally clear lens of the eye becoming progressively cloudy and opaque. As the cataract develops, less light reaches the retina at the back of the eye, causing worsening vision. 

Typically, cataracts develop gradually due to the natural aging process that occurs within the eyes. In some cases, they may develop in people earlier in life due to various factors, such as excessive UV light exposure that may degrade the crystalline lens over time. 

Cataracts tend to develop slowly over many years. However, once mature, they can significantly impact the quality of life by causing many symptoms such as glare, blurry vision, and difficulty seeing in dim lighting.

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What Are Secondary Cataracts? 

In some people, cloudy cells referred to as secondary cataracts emerge behind the artificial replacement lens implanted during cataract surgery. These form from lens epithelial cells that were left in the eye.

As they migrate across your vision in the months to years after surgery, vision becomes hazy again. This is called posterior capsular opacification, or PCO. 

Similar to cataracts, secondary cataracts or PCO can cause glare, double vision, poor night vision, and blurry vision. These symptoms often make people believe they are developing cataracts once again since the symptoms are so similar. 

However, since the lens is artifical, this is not possible. Although PCO is bothersome and relatively common, the treatment for PCO is much easier and quicker than cataract surgery.

Can You Have Cataract Surgery Twice?

Although you cannot get cataracts once again after your natural lenses are removed, some people may need lens replacement surgery at some point in their life for various reasons. However, this is not typically required for secondary cataracts or PCO. 

If secondary cataracts do occur, the good news is they can be easily treated. An outpatient laser procedure called posterior capsulotomy is used to restore vision. 

During this laser procedure, your eye doctor will make an opening in the clouded posterior capsule behind the implanted lens and remove any scar tissue that has built up. 

This allows light to once again reach the retina. It only takes a few minutes and requires little recovery time.

How is Posterior Capsular Opacification Treated?

During the posterior capsulotomy procedure, the eye surgeon uses a laser to make an opening in the cells behind the artificial lens. Little preparation is needed for this brief procedure. 

Within a day or two, vision will clear, and the symptoms will improve. This provides a safe, effective fix for recurring clouded vision after cataract surgery.

While irritating, secondary cataracts are treatable with a simple outpatient procedure. If you’ve had cataract surgery and notice changes in your vision, see your eye doctor at VisionFirst Eye Center right away. 

They can evaluate what is causing your symptoms and determine whether or not you have posterior capsular opacification. Then, they can create a treatment plan to restore your vision.

Are you experiencing blurry vision after cataract surgery? Schedule an appointment at VisionFirst Eye Center in Birmingham, AL, today!

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