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Ask the Experts: Cataracts

By Dr. Luke Barker

Can cataracts come back after cataract surgery?

Most of us will slowly and steadily develop cataracts over our lifetime. Typically, anywhere from age 50 to 80 is when they begin to become a noticeable issue, affecting our daily lives.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which is inside the eye behind the iris, the colored part of the eye. The job of the lens is to focus light, changing shape to allow for both near and distance vision. As the lens ages, it becomes rigid and cloudy, which affects this ability to focus.

The cloudiness also causes glare, halos around lights, and starbursts, which can affect the quality of vision, especially at night. Finally, worsening cataracts can cause frequent changes to your glasses prescription. Eventually, even changing your prescription won’t help improve vision. Cataract surgery is the only treatment.

Once cataracts are removed, they do not recur. All the natural lens material is removed during cataract surgery and refractive lens exchange, leaving only the capsular bag. This bag is the support structure inside the eye for the new artificial lens. The new lens rests inside the bag and heals in place without stitches, anchors or glue. Once removed, cataracts do not, cannot, grow again.

But over time, months to years down the road, the bag can develop scar tissue that, if centrally located, can cloud a person’s vision. This is sometimes referred to as a “secondary cataract,” but this is confusing because it is not a true cataract. The proper term for this scar tissue is Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO). PCO can easily be treated, using a YAG laser in a quick in-office procedure.

Generally speaking, cataract surgery, refractive lens exchange surgery and YAG laser procedures are safe and effective, giving a person more youthful vision and less dependence on glasses or contact lenses permanently. If you are interested in learning more about these or other procedures, as well as developing a   and See Life Better, then please schedule your evaluation today with your compassionate eye care providers at Mann Eye Institute.

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