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Secondary Cataract

What is a secondary cataract?

Older Woman and Man Reading a Tablet

A secondary cataract (or Posterior Capsule Opacification) is actually not a cataract at all. It is a healing response of the natural capsule that forms a “film” behind the new lens implant, affecting your vision and requiring treatment. Even though it is not a true cataract, it can cause many of the same symptoms of a cataract, and so may require treatment.

What are the symptoms of a secondary cataract?

A secondary cataract can cause light to scatter and can cause poor focus – the same issue you had with cataracts. This will make images blurry and cause issues like glare and halos around lights. You may have many of the same difficulties you had with your original cataracts – difficulty with your daily activities, night driving, reading, etc.

How frequently does this occur?

This response happens in every patient following cataract surgery. However, in about 30 percent of patients, this film crosses the visual axis and creates problems with your vision. In these cases, treatment is indicated and can often return your vision to the clarity you had right after your primary surgery.

How is a secondary cataract treated?

Unlike a cataract, a secondary cataract does not require incisions or phacoemulsification. These are treated with a laser called a YAG (Yttrium Aluminum Garnett) Laser. The process takes minutes to complete.

Will I have any pain?

No. The capsule does not have any nerves and so there will be no pain.

What is the recovery like?

Unlike many surgeries, the recovery time is minimal. There are no major restrictions and you can return to normal activities immediately.

What can I expect my vision to be like after the procedure?

You may notice an increase in floaters and vision may be slightly blurry after the procedure. These are temporary changes and should resolve on their own – the blurry vision typically resolves within hours, and the floaters dramatically reduce within a few days. In many cases, vision is clearer immediately following the procedure and there is no noticeable increase in floaters.

Do they come back?

Because we are removing the tissue behind the lens where the film occurred, the secondary cataract should not return as there is no longer capsule present.

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