Intraocular lens with PCOCataracts Growing Back! Is it Possible?

We have been asked many times, “Are my cataracts growing back?”

Anyone who has undergone cataract surgery will appreciate how much this procedure improves the clarity and colours of the world around them.  The enhancement of fine detail is in fact so marked, it is very common for people to notice small details they have been missing. For example, how much dust is lurking in the corners of rooms they thought were spotless, or how many fine wrinkles have developed as their cataracts have grown?

However, will your vision remain as beautifully clear as it was immediately following cataract surgery?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee your eyesight will not change after cataracts have been removed.  Sometimes you may notice clouding to the point where you wonder if your cataracts are growing back!  The answer is no – a cataract cannot regrow.

The Cataract Removal Process

First of all, let’s discuss how cataract surgery works.  During this procedure, the cloudy central part of the lens is removed, and the ‘capsular bag’ that held the cataract remains in the eye.  A plastic prosthetic ‘intraocular lens’ is then inserted inside the capsular bag.  So the cloudy part of the lens is replaced by a new, crystal clear lens, and – voila – sight is restored!

The PCO Puzzle

One of the most common causes of reduced vision after cataract surgery is posterior capsular opacification. What is that you may ask?

Breaking down the name ‘posterior capsular opacification’ enables us to piece together the puzzle of ‘PCO’.

  • Posterior – means the back of something
  • Capsular – the ‘capsular bag’ that the new prosthetic lens is implanted within during cataract surgery
  • Opacification – simply means ‘not clear’

Therefore, our detective skills lead us to determine that posterior capsular opacification is when the back surface of the capsular bag becomes clouded. Bingo! This is not your cataract growing back.

Opacification of the lens capsule is caused by cells that start to grow back across its surface and can occur in up to 40% of people who have had cataract surgery. This can occur days, weeks, months, or even years after surgery.

A Polished Approach to PCO

Posterior Capsular Opacification is easily treated with a ‘laser polish’ procedure, also known as a ‘YAG posterior capsulotomy’. This does not require another surgery but can be performed in the clinic behind a microscope, just as though you were having your eyes examined during a regular consultation. Using a lens and a ‘YAG’ laser, the posterior capsule is removed in a very quick and painless procedure.  

Some people notice a ‘floater ‘in their vision following a laser polish. Floaters will usually resolve in a few weeks.  As the posterior capsule does not regrow once it has been removed, a YAG posterior capsulotomy only needs to be performed once. 

Other post-surgery perils 

Many conditions other than PCO can cause blurring of vision after cataract surgery, for example:

If you notice any deterioration in your eyesight after cataract surgery, it is important it is fully investigated by an ophthalmologist or optometrist to determine the cause.

If you have had cataract surgery and have noticed that you are starting to have difficulty seeing dust particles and wrinkles contact us at KindSIGHT today for a consultation!