Secondary Cataracts

Secondary scar tissue developing behind the lens implant is often called a “secondary cataract”. Scar tissue developing on the lens capsule will impair the vision and can cause blurriness or distortion. This is a very common occurrence and can happen in greater than 50% of people that undergo cataract surgery. The wrinkling or cloudiness which can develop months or years later is a result of scarring (a normal healing response) and can interfere withe vision in ways similar to the original cataract. If the clouding of the posterior capsule interferes with your vision, your ophthalmologist may suggest opening the capsule to restore normal sight.

YAG Laser Capsulotomy

YAG Laser Capsulotomy

When this cloudiness of the posterior capsule occurs it is easily treated with a YAG laser capsulotomy. A YAG capsulotomy is a simple, painless laser procedure that is done in the office to remove scar tissue that can develop behind the lens implant once the cataract surgery is complete. A YAG laser is used to make a tiny hole in the posterior membrane to let the light pass through and restore the clarity of vision. Although the laser procedure requires close and precise focusing by the ophthalmologist, the technique is painless for the patient.

There is a common misconception that cataracts are removed by laser. This likely stems from the fact that YAG capsulotomies are incredibly common and greater than 50% of people who undergo cataract surgery will eventually require a YAG laser capsulotomy. A YAG capsulotomy is a surgical laser procedure; however the risks of serious complications resulting from this procedure are about 1/100th of the risks associated with a regular cataract operation. The only significant risk is that of retinal detachment. Although this happens rarely, if you do experience loss of vision (like a curtain coming down over your field of vision) or a very large number of floaters following the procedure you should contact Dr. Anderson immediately.

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Carolyn Anderson MD

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