Can Cataracts Come Back After You’ve Had Cataract Surgery?

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on February 6, 2024

Those who have undergone cataract surgery can usually look forward to experiencing clear vision for years ahead without ever again dealing with the bothersome symptoms that accompany cataracts. With the cloudy natural lens removed and an artificial intraocular lens implanted, most find their vision restored, and they can see again without the blurriness and visual obstructions caused by cataracts.

However, some people experience cataract symptoms returning months or even years later. Keep reading to learn more about cataracts and whether or not they can come back after cataract surgery!

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens inside your eye. The lens is a thick piece of tissue that adjusts light that enters your eye so your vision stays in focus.

In order for the lens to work, it has to be clear. Light has to be able to pass through the lens to reach the retina for sight to be possible.

Cataracts develop in the lens when proteins break down and clump together. These microscopic clumps are not a problem at first.

They are too small to distort or block any significant amount of light. However, over time, the clumps grow and become darker.

As more light is blocked, more vision is lost. Eventually, cataracts can cause complete blindness if left untreated.

Typically, cataracts develop as a part of the natural aging process within the eye. Though there is no way to avoid getting cataracts, there are often steps you can take to avoid developing them earlier in life.

Cataract surgery is the only way to restore your vision.

What Happens During Cataract Surgery?

During cataract surgery, your cataract surgeon will remove your natural lens and replace it with a clear artificial one of your choosing. After numbing the surface of your eyes with anesthetic drops, your cataract surgeon will make a small opening in the cornea, which is the clear dome-like structure at the front of your eye.

This gives your surgeon direct access to your lens. Before it can be removed, the lens must first be broken apart into tiny pieces.

Once this is done, those tiny pieces can be suctioned using a special device. Finally, your cataract surgery can replace your natural lens with a device called an IOL or intraocular lens.

This synthetic lens makes sight after cataract surgery possible. There are many IOL options, and there are even premium IOLs that can enhance your vision and reduce your need for glasses.

Since your natural lens is replaced with an artificial one, you will not have to worry about developing cataracts again later in life. Cataracts are made of natural proteins, but the IOL is made up of silicone or acrylic.

There is no living tissue to break down. Once you have cataract surgery, you will not need to worry about ever developing cataracts again.

However, some people develop similar symptoms to cataracts after cataract surgery.

What is Posterior Capsular Opacification?

While cataracts cannot grow inside of an IOL, the membrane that holds the lens can cloud over after surgery. This is known as PCO or posterior capsular opacification.

This is not an actual cataract, although it is sometimes called a “secondary cataract.”  Fortunately, posterior capsular opacification is another easy problem to solve.

If you experience symptoms similar to cataracts after cataract surgery, you may have PCO. In order to treat PCO, your eye doctor can use a specialized laser to remove any scar tissue on the lens capsule during a short in-office treatment.

This involves opening a small hole in the membrane holding the lens to allow light to pass through. This operation is even faster than cataract surgery.

Are you experiencing blurry vision after cataract surgery? Schedule an appointment at Missouri Eye Institute in Branson, MO, today!


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