Can Cataracts Grow Back?

Getting diagnosed with cataracts can be scary. However, some people find the prospect of cataract removal surgery even scarier. Many people are put off by the thought of eye surgery, and if they are going to go through with it, they want to know that they’ll only have to do it once. We get this question a lot: “will my cataracts grow back after surgery?”

Can Cataracts Grow Back?

The quick answer is no, they cannot. It is impossible for a cataract to grow back. However, rarely, a condition called after-cataract can occur. To understand how this happens, you need to understand how cataract surgery works and how your eye works.

How Cataract Surgery Works

Inside of your eye, located behind the iris and the pupil, there is a natural crystalline lens that helps you focus and see. This lens is located inside of a membrane called a capsule, which keeps the lens in place. If you have cataracts, the lens inside of the capsule has started to opacify, causing blurry vision.

During cataract surgery, your surgeon will make an incision in the cornea (the clear surface of the eye). Your surgeon will work through this cornea incision to remove the cataracts. In order to gain access to the cataract-affected lens, your surgeon will perform a capsulotomy, during which the front portion of the capsule is removed. The back of the capsule is left intact, as it will help keep the artificial lens implant in place.

What Is an After-Cataract?

An after-cataract, medically known as a posterior capsular opacity, is a condition that occurs when the back portion of the capsule that was left intact begins to fog up. This condition, while different from cataracts, can cause very similar symptoms.

When the capsule becomes cloudy, light cannot properly enter the eye. This results in the appearance of glare, starbursts, and blurry vision. After-cataracts occur for a number of reasons including:

  • Chronic steroid use
  • History of diabetes
  • Incomplete cataract removal
  • Posterior subcapsular and polar cataract types

Treatment for After-Cataracts

Luckily, after-cataract is fairly simple to correct. It does not involve another cataract surgery. Instead, this condition is corrected using a YAG laser. The procedure does not involve any incisions, needles, or other invasive tools.

During treatment, your eyes will be dilated so your doctor can get a full view of the implant. The YAG laser will be used to create an opening in the capsule to let light through. You will not feel the treatment, but you can see and hear the laser.

When treatment is finished, you should experience improved vision. You may notice an increase in floaters but that should subside within a few days. YAG laser treatment requires little to no downtime and you should be able to return to everyday activities the next day.

Do you have more questions about cataract surgery and its associated risks? Contact the Santa Monica Eye Medical Group to discuss if cataract surgery is right for you! If you would like to schedule your cataract consultation, call us or schedule your appointment online. We look forward to helping you gain clear vision.

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