Life after cataract surgery

Anyone who has undergone cataract surgery will appreciate how this procedure improves the clarity and colours of the world around us.  In fact, the enhancement of fine detail is so marked that it is very common for people to realise how much dust is lurking in the corners of rooms they thought were spotless, or how many fine wrinkles they have developed as their cataracts have grown.  But will our vision forever stay as beautifully clear as it was immediately following cataract surgery?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your sight will not change after cataracts have been removed.  Sometimes you may notice clouding to the point where you are wondering if your cataract has grown back!  The answer is no – a cataract cannot regrow.

One of the most common causes of reduced vision after cataract surgery is posterior capsular opacification.  What on Earth is that, you ask?

The cataract process

First of all, let’s discuss how cataract surgery works.  During this procedure, the cloudy central part of the lens is removed, and the ‘capsular bag’ that held the cataract remains in the eye.  A plastic prosthetic ‘intraocular lens’ is then inserted inside the capsular bag.  So the cloudy part of the lens is replaced by a new, crystal clear lens, and – voila – sight is restored!

The PCO puzzle

Now if we break down the name ‘posterior capsular opacification’ into pieces, we can put together the puzzle of ‘PCO’.  ‘Posterior’ means the back of something, and ‘capsular’ refers to the ‘capsular bag’ that the new prosthetic lens is implanted within during cataract surgery.  Opacification simply means ‘not clear’.  So our detective skills have led us to believe that posterior capsular opacification is when the back surface of the capsular bag becomes clouded – bingo!

The opacification of the lens capsule is caused by cells which start to grow back across its surface.  It occurs in up to 40% of people who have had cataract surgery, and may occur days, weeks, months or even years after surgery.

A polished approach 

The great news is that PCO is very easily treated with a ‘laser polish’ procedure, also knows as a ‘YAG posterior capsulotomy’.  This does not require another surgery but can be performed in clinic behind a microscope, just as though you were having your eyes examined during a regular consultation.  Using a lens and a ‘YAG’ laser, the posterior capsule is removed in a very quick and painless procedure.  Following a laser polishsome people will notice a floater in their vision, which will usually resolve within several weeks.  As the posterior capsule does not regrow once it has been removed, a YAG posterior capsulotomy only needs to be performed once. 

Other post-surgery perils 

There are many conditions other than PCO that can cause blurring after cataract surgery.  Some examples include: 

  • Dry eye disease 
  • Macula swelling 
  • Corneal swelling 
  • Macular degeneration 
  • Haemorrhaging inside the eye 
  • Detachment of the retina 

Therefore, it is important that any deterioration in sight noticed after cataract surgery is fully investigated by an ophthalmologist or optometrist to determine the cause.

If you have had cataract surgery and have noticed that you are starting to have difficulty seeing dust particles and wrinkles, contact us at KindSIGHT today for a consultation!