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When you begin to develop cataracts, they may start to cause visual symptoms. This decrease in the quality of your vision likely won’t happen immediately.

But after you have cataracts for long enough, they will block light from hitting your retina. When this happens, your eye doctor will discuss cataract surgery with you. 

You may already know that removing cataracts and getting back to everyday life is a straightforward process. Cataract surgery removes your cloudy natural lens to replace it with an artificial one.

This artificial lens called an intraocular lens or IOL, restores your vision. You may not realize that there is a chance of developing a secondary cataract even after cataract surgery.

Secondary cataracts form in response to your initial cataract surgery. Keep reading to learn more about secondary cataracts and what you can do to prevent them from developing.

What is a Secondary Cataract?

A secondary cataract is different from a natural cataract. When cataracts get removed, the entire lens they grow inside gets removed.

The IOL that replaces your natural lens is acrylic or silicone. A new cataract can’t grow inside of these materials.

However, the IOL gets placed inside the membrane that holds your natural lens. This membrane can become cloudy or wrinkled as a result of trauma from cataract surgery.

As it wrinkles or scar tissue develops, the membrane can slowly become opaque. Over time this could cause symptoms similar to an actual cataract. 

Secondary cataracts can be a discouraging nuisance after you deal with natural cataracts. Luckily treating a secondary cataract is simpler than primary cataract surgery. 

What is a Capsulotomy?

The treatment for a secondary cataract is a capsulotomy or a YAG laser capsulotomy. It is a short outpatient procedure that involves minimal recovery time.

YAG laser capsulotomy does not involve removing and replacing the IOL. Instead, it uses a simple, controlled puncture to allow light to flow through the capsule again.

YAG laser capsulotomy begins by dilating your pupils and numbing your eyes with anesthetic eye drops. Then your surgeon uses a YAG laser to create an opening in the membrane that holds the IOL.

This opening in the posterior or rear capsule allows light to flow through the opaque membrane to your retina. Improvement in your vision should be noticeable within hours after your procedure.

As with primary cataract surgery, you will need to attend a follow-up appointment. This appointment allows your eye doctor to monitor your eyesight after the procedure.

What Are The Side Effects of YAG Capsulotomy?

Even a minimally invasive procedure like YAG capsulotomy has some risks. One potential side effect is an increase in floaters.

Floaters are the squiggly lines in your vision that seem to dart away when you try to focus on one. These may remain for a few days following your procedure.

Floaters are particles floating in your vitreous or the gel-like substance that fills your eye. They cast shadows on your retina after YAG capsulotomy.

These particles get reabsorbed or filtered out of your eye within a few days. However, it can take longer for some people.

Do you think you’re developing secondary cataracts? Schedule an appointment at Colorado Eye Consultants in Littleton, CO, to ensure your eyes are healthy!