Can my cataract grow back?

This is a common misconception about cataracts. A cataract is a misting of the lens inside your eye and not a film that grows over the surface of the eye. During cataract surgery the aged natural lens is removed but most of the clear capsular bag it sits in remains in the eye. The capsular bag is needed so that your new artificial intra-ocular lens can sit in it.

Posterior capsular opacification (PCO) refers to a secondary misting of this capsular bag. After cataract surgery approximately 20% of patients develop this misting. As a consequence, the bright vision they experience immediately after their cataract surgery tends to get duller with time.

If this occurs I can offer YAG laser capsulotomy. This painless procedure involves using a special laser to create an opening in the misty capsular bag behind the lens. The artificial intraocular lens remains untouched as it itself is not cloudy.

Thankfully posterior capsular opacification treatment is simple and effective and safe.

Why does posterior capsular opacification occur in 20% of patients?

This is an interesting question. It is thought to occur because some residual cataract cells are left behind during cataract surgery despite the surgeon’s best efforts to remove all of the cataract. These cells can then grow like a sheet over the back surface of the intraocular lens on the posterior capsular film.

Changes in the design of intra-ocular lenses have reduced the rates of posterior capsular opacification in the last few years. These include making the edge of the intra-ocular lens square rather than rounded and making the intraocular lens out of a special combination of materials that prevent posterior capsular opacification.

If you have had successful private cataract surgery and your vision becomes more misty again, please be reassured that your cataract is not growing back. It may be due to posterior capsular opacification and thankfully that is easily treated.

You can call me on 020 7305 5063 and I would be happy to discuss.