5 Things To Know About Secondary Cataracts

5 Things To Know About Secondary Cataracts

Cataract surgery is a commonly performed procedure that improves vision by removing a cloudy lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL). While the majority of individuals experience significantly improved vision after cataract surgery, some may develop a condition known as secondary cataract or posterior capsule opacification (PCO) in the months following the surgery.


Understanding Secondary Cataracts

Secondary cataracts, or PCOs, are not actually a type of cataract but share similar symptoms. PCO occurs when fibrosis or excessive tissue growth develops on the back of the capsule where the new IOL is implanted. This fibrosis can cause vision to become cloudy once again, along with other symptoms such as light sensitivity and halos when looking at lights.


Incidence and Risk Factors

It is estimated that between 25% and 50% of individuals who undergo cataract surgery will develop PCO. Certain factors can increase the risk of developing this condition.

Age is a significant risk factor, with younger individuals being more likely to develop PCO in the months following surgery. Inflammation in the eyes, known as uveitis, can also increase the risk of PCO. Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, retinitis pigmentosa, and myotonic dystrophy are additional risk factors. Furthermore, if the original cataract was caused by trauma or damage to the eye, there is a higher risk of developing PCO.


Considering the Benefits of Cataract Surgery

Despite the risk of PCO, cataract surgery remains a highly effective procedure for improving vision. The potential development of secondary cataracts should not deter individuals from pursuing cataract surgery if it is recommended by their doctor.


Treatment Options for PCO

Fortunately, PCO can be easily treated in the office setting using a laser procedure called YAG capsulotomy. This non-invasive and efficient treatment involves removing the fibrotic tissue from the capsule without the need for advanced preparation.

Before undergoing laser surgery, your eye doctor will thoroughly examine your eye and the integrity of the intraocular lens. If you are a suitable candidate for the procedure, your doctor will explain the risks and benefits and provide information regarding the timing and location of the surgery. In some states, the procedure can be performed by an optometrist on the same day at their office, while in other states, a referral to an ophthalmologist may be necessary.


Understanding YAG Capsulotomy

YAG capsulotomy is a laser surgery treatment specifically designed to address PCO. The procedure utilizes a green laser known as a YAG laser. In many states, this procedure can be done by either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

During the surgery, the fibrotic tissue on the lens capsule is precisely removed, restoring clear vision. The energy from the laser is able to blast the fibrotic tissue and release the capsule which opens a clear path for vision through the center of the pupil.

In most cases, a single YAG capsulotomy is sufficient to treat PCO, and recurrence is rare. However, if PCO does recur, another YAG capsulotomy can be performed if there is an impact on vision.


Dr. Jorge Malouf and the staff of the Malouf Eye specialize in a variety of ophthalmologic conditions and treatments including cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, strabismus surgery, neuro-ophthalmology exams, oculoplastics, diabetes and more.  Call our ophthalmologist in Tampa, FL today at 813-798-2020 if you are interested in learning more about secondary cataracts or PCO. Our eye doctor provides only the highest quality eye care and surgical services amongst eye doctors in the Tampa, Florida area.