Why Cataracts Can’t Come Back after Removal

March 11th, 2019
cataract removal

Cataracts cannot grow back, but you’re experiencing cloudy vision after your cataract surgery, your eye care specialist can help.

Cataracts affect approximately 24 million Americans over the age of 40 and about half of all Americans over the age of 80. This means that a large portion of us will experience cataracts at some point in our lives and, most likely, undergo cataract surgery to restore our vision and enjoy active lifestyles unhindered by impaired eyesight.

While millions of patients have cataract surgery and report successful results, some patients note deteriorating vision despite undergoing the procedure. Naturally, this leads many Americans to wonder whether their surgeries were unsuccessful and if their cataracts have grown back.

Patients in this position should know that it is not possible for cataracts to grow back. However, it’s not uncommon for eyesight to eventually worsen after cataract surgery because of the nature of the procedure — even if it was a successful one. While this may cause you concern, it’s important to note that this aftereffect is relatively common and that a simple, painless procedure exists to reverse its effects.

Cataract Surgery

To understand why your vision may seem to deteriorate after cataract surgery, it helps to understand what causes cataracts in the first place and what cataract surgery accomplishes.

For starters, the lenses of the eye are enclosed in a clear membrane known as the lens capsule. As we age, that lens goes on producing new cells — cells that can cause your vision to become cloudy, leading to the formation of cataracts. If cataracts become threatening enough, you and your eye care specialist may decide that you should undergo cataract surgery.

During the procedure, a surgeon removes the area of the lens capsule that sits in front of the lens, allowing them to reach the cataract, remove it, and insert an intraocular lens (IOL). However, part of the lens capsule behind the eye lens is not removed, and the IOL is inserted in front of it.

Possible After-Effects

While most patients enjoy clear vision after their procedure, it’s not uncommon for some to experience additional cloudiness. This can occur if the portion of the lens capsule left intact during the surgery becomes cloudy, something that’s known as posterior capsular opacification (PCO). Some patients may know these as after-cataracts or secondary cataracts.

In fact, about 30% of patients experience PCO. While some patients report deteriorating vision soon after they undergo cataract surgery, it’s possible not to experience cloudy vision until years later.

Related Treatment Options

Thankfully, a simple, painless procedure exists that can reverse vision deterioration. This procedure, called a YAG laser capsulotomy, can be performed in your eye care specialist’s office.

The eyes are dilated and the doctor will focus a laser on the remaining portion of the lens capsule. This laser thus creates an opening so that light can enter the eye without having to pass through cloudy cells. YAG laser capsulotomies only take a few minutes and the results are permanent, meaning that you won’t experience vision deterioration after undergoing the procedure.

Available Resources

If you’ve undergone cataract surgery and you’re still having problems with your vision, you may be dealing with PCO. Consider reaching out to an eye care specialist to speak about what you’re experiencing so that you can determine whether a YAG capsulotomy is right for you.

Ready to make an appointment? Reach out to ICON Eyecare to schedule a consultation today. Our team of trained staff and experienced eye care specialists are ready to diagnose issues with your eyesight and prepared to recommend treatment plans for any eye care needs.