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Secondary Cataracts: Is This Really A Thing?

Cataracts affect millions of people, causing varying degrees of cloudiness from one to another. A characteristic of cataracts is that this condition progressively worsens over time. This happens because proteins continually accumulate on the natural lens once the process has begun. At some point, there are too many proteins on the lens for a person to see clearly. It may be difficult to read normal-sized print or to see facial expressions and characteristics well.

Whenever cataracts get in the way of safety or quality of life, a board-certified ophthalmologist can remove them. In the majority of cases, cataract removal surgery achieves outstanding results after which patients enjoy crisp, sharp vision for the rest of their lives. However, there are instances in which vision once again becomes cloudy after cataracts have been removed. This can happen within a few months or several years, but it can be disheartening either way. Referred to as “secondary cataracts,” this condition is not what it seems, and this is a good thing.

Is Your Vision Getting Cloudy After Cataract Removal? This Could Be Why!

The term “secondary cataracts” is a simple way of describing a much more complicated medical term. There is no such thing as cataracts growing back. During cataract removal surgery, the doctor removes the entire natural lens of the eye, not a mere portion of it. This has to be done because proteins may permeate the lens and trying to remove them would only damage the natural structure. The surgery entails creating an opening in the membrane that holds the natural lens and inserting a new lens in its place. The membrane then heals over the new intraocular lens to secure it in the eye.

What we call secondary cataracts is posterior capsular opacification (PCO). This condition occurs when a film of proteins develops on the membrane around the new lens. It isn’t because new cataracts have formed on the lens. The artificial lens remains intact but, we could say, it has a dirty window to see through. To address this problem, an ophthalmologist can perform a brief procedure in which a small opening is made at the front of the membrane. This is like opening the dirty window. The membrane is opened for the lens to operate well but is in adequate condition to hold the lens as it should.

At Cornea Consultants of Albany, we care about long-term results. If your vision needs attention, we can help. Schedule your visit to 518.475.1515.

Posted in: Cataract Surgery

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