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Will Cataracts Grow Back?

Last week in honor of Cataract Awareness Month, we discussed intraocular lens choices for cataract surgery. This week, we’re answering one popular question often fielded by our doctors: “If my cataracts are removed, will they grow back?”

The answer to this question is no. However, months to years after the cataract surgery, you can develop a clouding of the capsule behind the lens implant. This is called posterior capsule opacification (PCO). If this occurs, a surgical laser procedure known as a yag capsulotomy may be necessary to restore vision.

The capsule is like a clear bag that forms the natural outer portion of the lens of the eye. During cataract surgery (in which the discolored natural lens of the eye is removed), part of the front (anterior) capsule is removed while the remainder of the capsular bag is left intact. The lens implant is inserted inside this capsular bag. As long as that capsule stays clear, the patient will have good vision. But in 10 – 30% of people, the back (posterior) of the capsule loses its clarity over time. When this happens, an opening can be made in the posterior capsule with a laser (yag capsulotomy) to restore normal vision.

Before the laser procedure, one of our doctors conducts a thorough ophthalmic examination to make sure there is no other reason for vision loss. A yag capsulotomy is painless and takes less than 5 minutes – Our doctors perform this procedure at our state-of-the-art outpatient facility in Brick, Seashore Surgical. Vision may be blurry for a short while afterwards, but usually improves during the first 24 hours.

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