Cataracts are extremely common, affecting over 20 million Americans. In fact, one in five people over the age of 65 will experience cataracts. It makes sense, then, that cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the country. Every year, over three million individuals in America will undergo cataract surgery, which is a highly successful procedure.
If you have had cataract surgery in the past or are undergoing it in the near future, you might be wondering if cataracts can come back after the procedure. The short answer is no, cataracts cannot come back after surgery. In this blog post, we will dive into the details of why, as well as a few complications that might occur after cataract surgery.
Cataracts Can’t Come Back After Surgery
During cataract surgery, the eye surgeon replaces the eye’s natural lens with an artificial one. This completely eliminates the possibility of new cataracts forming. In this sense, cataract surgery produces permanent results.
However, there is a common secondary condition called posterior capsular opacity (PCO), also referred to as secondary cataracts, that can occur after cataract surgery. This condition occurs in approximately 20% of individuals, and it has extremely similar symptoms to cataracts.
What is Posterior Capsular Opacity (PCO)?
PCO occurs when a cloudy layer of scar tissue develops behind the intraocular lens. In more technical terms, it occurs when epithelial cells grow around the capsule that holds the intraocular lens (IOL) inserted during surgery. The result is cloudy or blurry vision, much like vision with cataracts. Because PCO can make your vision seem like it was before cataract surgery, it might feel like your cataracts came back. But this is not the case; it is the scar tissue that is causing the impairment.
PCO will not go away on its own, and it can happen immediately or several years following cataract surgery. But the good news is that PCO is easy to fix, thanks to a quick laser surgery called Yttrium Aluminium Garnet (YAG) capsulotomy.
Because PCO will not resolve itself, it is important to contact your eye doctor immediately if you are experiencing blurry vision or any other vision symptoms following cataract surgery.
How Do YAG Capsulotomies Work?
This quick outpatient procedure creates an opening in the eye’s posterior capsule. This forms a clear passage for light to travel from the cornea at the front of the eye to the retina at the back of the eye. The procedure only takes a few minutes per eye, and vision should be restored immediately. The majority of individuals will not need to have it done more than once.
Other Cataract Surgery Complications
Like we mentioned before, approximately 20% of people who have cataract surgery will experience PCO. That leaves 80% of individuals who won’t experience this complication. There are, however, several other complications that can follow cataract surgery. These complications are rare, with most individuals experiencing restored, complication-free vision following surgery.
About 0.1 percent of cataract surgery patients suffer from endophthalmitis, an eye infection in which bacteria attack the eye, interfering with vision and causing swelling, redness, discharge, and discomfort. In rare cases, cataract surgery can cause the retina to tear or become detached from the ocular wall. This condition should be treated immediately, as retinal damage can result in vision loss.
Cataract Care in Austin, Texas
Whether you have cataracts and are considering cataract surgery, or think you might have cataracts but aren’t sure, Broberg Eye Care is here for you. We provide comprehensive eye care in Austin, Texas, including cataract surgery and ongoing care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.