Cataracts occur when the lens of your eye (located behind the pupil) becomes cloudy. The lens serves a very important function in our eyesight.
It focuses much of the light that passes through it onto the retina. The retina then senses the light and passes the information on to the brain.
It is, of course, important for this lens to be clear. Opacity affects how light can hit the retina. It can even cause light to bounce around in the eye, creating painful glare. Keep reading to learn if you can have cataracts twice!
What happens during cataract surgery?
When cataracts form, they cause cloudy vision. The only way to fix this is by having cataract surgery.
During cataract surgery, you would think that the cataract is removed, but there’s more to it. Instead, during cataract surgery, the entire affected lens gets removed.
This is because cataracts form throughout the lens, not on the surface. The lens is then replaced with an artificial lens called an IOL.
IOLs are customizable and can even help you see better than before you had cataracts. Depending on the IOL you choose, it can reduce or get rid of your need for glasses!
So can I have a cataract twice?
Because the lens is replaced during cataract surgery, a cataract can’t grow back. After the surgery, you can have a secondary cataract as a potential complication.
A secondary cataract doesn’t form in the artificial lens. Rather, the membrane that holds the IOL in place becomes opaque. This is why this process is also called “posterior capsular opacification”.
Posterior capsular opacification can occur months or even years after cataract surgery. It’s also impossible to tell who is going to have this problem.
Upwards of half of all cataract patients can experience a secondary cataract. Luckily the condition is very easy to remedy.
Treating a secondary cataract
If you have a secondary cataract, it’s treated in a different way than a normal cataract. To remove a secondary cataract, you’ll undergo a procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy.
Performing a YAG capsulotomy does not remove the now opaque membrane. This membrane is still needed to hold the IOL in place.
Instead, a simple incision using a laser beam makes a precise incision into the tissue. This incision allows light to come through.
It is a painless procedure that takes only about five minutes to compelte. You may need to stay after to ensure there are no problems with your eyes. This includes increased eye pressure.
YAG capsulotomies are outpatient procedures, so you will be able to go home as soon as you are cleared. Vision improvement is generally immediate. It is not uncommon for vision to slowly improve over the course of a few days.
You don’t have to learn about cataract surgery alone. Come into Pinke Eye Center in Shelton, CT for a cataract screening. You’ll have all your questions and concerns answered! If you suspect you have a cataract, it’s time to find out.