Not Again: Secondary Cataracts

shutterstock_49617790After it has been removed a cataract can’t come back, right? Well, although this is technically true, you can still suffer from what is called a secondary cataract. We’re here to help you understand what exactly a second cataract is, what causes it, and how you and your doctor can treat it.

What Is It?

A regular cataract is where the lens in your eye grows cloudy. If you have a restorative operation, the damaged lens will be replaced  by a new, man-made clear lens. The cataract itself will never come back. However, some of the hazy lens cells may still remain and then grow on the wall of the new lens. This causes a hazy membrane to form, which can cloud the vision similar to an actual cataract. While it may have similar symptoms, this is not a real cataract. Instead, it is a condition called posterior capsule opacity.

How Common Is It?

The vast majority of cataract surgeries are successful, and secondary cataracts do not mean that the surgery was a failure. The various statistics vary, but different studies say that 10% of patients will eventually develop secondary cataracts after surgery, while others say 20% or even 35%. Even at the higher end of this spectrum, that is still only about 1/3 of all cataract surgery patients. And while the symptoms of secondary cataracts may be inconvenient, this condition is much less serious than your original cataracts.

How Is It Treated?

Fortunately, posterior capsule opacity can be easily treated through a painless and safe method. This is called YAG laser capsulotomy. You will not feel anything, because the eye isn’t even touched. Instead, laser energy is used to remove the haze. It is effective and fast; the procedure only takes a few minutes and you can return to your normal life immediately.

If you’re noticing that your vision is starting to grow hazy, don’t panic. Your cataract is not coming back. You might simply have a secondary cataract, but that can be taken care of in no time at all. It is nothing to worry about.

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