The development of cataracts is a concern for most people as they grow older. Cataracts are very common as, more than half of Americans aged 80 older either have a cataract or have had cataract removal surgery. Oddly enough, primary cataracts are common in those over the age of 60, but secondary cataracts occur more often in patients under 60 years of age. Cataracts are the most common age-related eye condition that is easily treatable. Because they develop gradually, patients can usually rely on a new prescription for a while before cataract surgery is inevitable.
Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of the eye to dodue to a breakdown of proteins in the eye that begin to clump together causing blurry or foggy vision. As the signs and symptoms of cataracts increase in severity, cataracts will start to significantly impact vision, limiting the ability to carry out daily activities. When this happens, your eye doctor will recommend cataract surgery. One of the most frequently asked questions patients have regarding cataract surgery is “can I have cataract surgery more than once?”
During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens. This new intraocular lens cannot grow a cataract. However, there is a condition called secondary cataracts, medically referred to as posterior capsular opacity, that causes similar symptoms to cataracts. The natural lens is located behind the pupil and iris to help the eye focus. During cataract surgery, the lens is removed and replaced. This lens is housed in a thin membrane of the eye called the capsule that holds the lens in place. When the natural lens is removed due to a cataract, the front portion of the capsule is also removed as a means for the surgeon to reach the cataract, leaving the back portion of the capsule intact. Sometimes after cataract surgery, the back portion of the capsule will begin to opacify, creating a cloudiness to vision like a cataract, due to left behind epithelial cells in the posterior capsule. Patients with secondary cataracts may also experience similar symptoms to cataracts that include difficulty seeing nearby objects, difficulty perceiving colors and contrasts, and light glares or halos around lights. The only treatment for secondary cataracts is an outpatient procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy. The laser creates a hole in the posterior capsule to break up the left behind protein to restore vision. If a patient develops secondary cataracts, they will not have more than one cataract surgery, but they may require the laser procedure to ensure better vision.
If you have cataracts or would like to learn more about cataract surgery, contact Pendleton Eye by calling 760-758-2008 or scheduling your visit online at WEBSITE.