Secondary Cataract

Development of a secondary cataract

A cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye, a condition in which the patient undergoes surgery and the eye lens is replaced with an artificial lens. The success rate of cataract surgeries is between 95%-98%.

Following this surgical procedure, it is not possible for the artificial lens to become cloudy again, but secondary cataracts can arise, in which the lens capsule becomes cloudy and the vision in the eye which underwent surgery blurs again. This occurs in about a third of those undergoing cataract surgery.

Secondary cataracts can appear weeks, months or years after cataract surgery, and of course not all patients who have undergone such surgery will experience secondary cataracts.


Symptoms of a secondary cataract

The symptoms of secondary cataracts are similar to those of primary cataracts and include blurred vision, gradual obfuscation of vision, and being blinded by bright light. It should not be concluded that cataract surgery that you have undergone was unsuccessful; this is phenomenon is well-known and treatable.

How secondary cataracts are caused

During cataract surgery, the eye lens which has clouded over is replaced with an artificial lens. This procedure is performed by opening a small opening on the anterior (front) side of the capsule (that the lens is held in), removing the cloudy lens and inserting an artificial lens in place of it. The posterior (back) part of the capsule remains intact. Following cataract surgery, cells belonging to the old lens remain inside the capsule, and in a small percentage of patients, these cells grow and cause white scar tissue. This is what causes the cloudiness and is effectively the secondary cataract.

Treatment of a secondary cataract

Treatment of a secondary cataract is relatively simple and is done via a machine called a Yag Laser which looks like a slit lamp in which a regular eye test is performed. The machine is located at the clinic and there is no need for an operating theatre to conduct the procedure.

First, droplets are placed in order to dilate the pupil of the eye with the secondary cataract, and using the laser machine, a hole is made in the center of the posterior part of the eye capsule which has become clouded over. The hole created helps light to pass through it. This procedure takes a few minutes, is not painful and does not require admission to hospital. A few applications of the laser are required to make the hole in the capsule, with each of its actions being accompanied by a sound. The procedure takes approximately 5 minutes and is not painful.

Most of the patients experience an immediate improvement of vision, with others experiencing improvement within a few days. Following the procedure, treatment with drops is recommended for a few days, and there are no limitations to lifestyle.

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