Secondary Cataract

What is a secondary cataract?

The technical term for a secondary cataract (also referred to as an "after cataract") is "posterior capsule opacity" (PCO), and can occur months to years after cataract surgery depending on how quickly it develops. During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens (the cataract) is removed from a clear tissue "bag" that supports the lens (the capsule), and is replaced with an intraocular lens implant (IOL).  Though the cataract can never return once removed, left over cells from the original lens can grow to create a film across the capsule which forms the secondary cataract. 

What are the symptoms of a secondary cataract?

Symptoms of a secondary cataract are similar to those of a cataract including:

  • Cloudy, blurry or distorted vision
  • Decreased vision and difficulty seeing at night
  • Problems with glare and bright lights

How do we treat a secondary cataract?

Treatment for a secondary cataract involves a technique called "YAG laser capsulotomy" (YAG stands for yttrium aluminum garnet - the elements that make up the laser beam).  The surgeon uses short pulses of YAG laser energy to make a small hole in the back of the capsule.  This opening restores vision by allowing light to pass unobstructed through the clouded capsule.  Treatment is painless, permanent and only takes a few minutes.