Are you getting ready to undergo cataract surgery? Or is your vision blurred or hazy weeks, months, or years following your cataract procedure?

You may be wondering whether you can have a cataract more than once. Keep reading to learn more about cataracts and whether they can return after removal!

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is the clouding of a usually clear natural lens inside the eye. It occurs when proteins in the eye break down and build up inside the lens, causing it to become cloudy.

Cataracts can form in both eyes, although they may not develop at the same rate. For people with cataracts, looking through a cloudy lens is like seeing through a foggy window.

What are the Symptoms of Cataracts?

Cataracts typically develop gradually and don’t cause noticeable symptoms at first. But with time, you may experience symptoms the following symptoms as cataracts progress:

  • Blurred, cloudy, or dim vision 
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Poor night vision
  • Halos and glare
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Frequent prescription changes
  • Colors appearing dull or faded
  • Need for brighter lighting for close-up activities like reading

How Can I Cope with Small or Early Cataracts?

Early on, you can improve poor vision from cataracts by:

  • Using a magnifying lens to read
  • Updating your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription
  • Using brighter lightbulbs around your home
  • Placing lamps directly behind you, pointed at the task you’re performing

While these tips can help you see for some time, they’re only temporary measures. Eventually, your eye doctor may recommend removing the cataract when these measures no longer work and cataracts start to affect your everyday life.

How are Cataracts Treated?

The only effective treatment for cataracts is cataract surgery. Cataract surgery aims to remove cataracts and restore clear vision. 

First, dilating drops are placed in your eye to widen your pupil. Your cataract surgeon will also administer numbing eye drops to ensure you are comfortable.

Using a laser or blade, your cataract surgeon will create a small incision in the front surface of your eye, known as the cornea. The incisions allow them to access your natural lens where the cataract is.

Using tiny instruments, they’ll break up the lens into tiny pieces. A small vacuum will then suck up the fragments. 

The back of the lens, called the lens capsule or posterior capsule, is left in place to hold the new lens. Finally, your cataract surgeon will put a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL) in the lens capsule to replace your natural lens.

The incision made is so small that it doesn’t need stitches. It self-heals over time. 

The new IOL helps you regain clear, sharp vision. Cataract surgery is a straightforward and safe outpatient procedure that takes anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour to complete. 

Can My Cataract Come Back After Surgery?

You can’t develop a cataract again. During cataract surgery, the natural lens with a cataract is completely removed and replaced with an artificial IOL.

A cataract can only form on a natural lens and never on a synthetic one. Cataract surgery boasts high success rates.

The most common complication is secondary cataracts. Some cataract surgery patients will go on to develop secondary cataracts.

You may experience blurred or cloudy vision when you have a secondary cataract, causing you to think that your cataract has returned. However, it’s not possible for a cataract to come back once you have cataract surgery.

What are Secondary Cataracts?

A secondary cataract is the clouding of the lens capsule. The medical term for a secondary cataract is posterior capsular opacification (PCO).

Posterior capsular opacification can happen weeks, months, or years following cataract surgery.  With PCO, the lens capsule starts to opacify, preventing light from reaching or focusing properly on the retina, similar to how the cataract did before surgery.

The lens capsule is a thin, transparent membrane that supports your new lens. When the original lens is removed, some of its epithelial cells may remain in the capsule and change into scar tissue.

What Are the Symptoms of a Secondary Cataract?

The signs and symptoms of PCO can mimic those of a cataract. That’s why it’s easy to believe your cataract has come back, even though it hasn’t. 

If you have a secondary cataract, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Poor night vision
  • Halos and glare

Do Secondary Cataracts Require Treatment?

Secondary cataracts don’t clear up on their own. They need treatment.

The good news is that you won’t have to undergo cataract surgery twice on the same eye.  Instead, your eye doctor will schedule a simple laser procedure called a YAG capsulotomy.

YAG stands for yttrium aluminum garnet laser, and it refers to the type of laser used during the procedure. The procedure is even more simple than cataract surgery and very safe.

To treat posterior capsular opacification, your eye doctor will create a tiny opening in the cloudy lens capsule with a YAG laser. The procedure is done without creating any incision in your eye.

This opening lets light pass through, restoring clear vision. YAG capsulotomy is a quick and effective in-office procedure that only takes about five minutes to perform.

Within twenty-four hours, you should begin noticing improvements in your vision.

Regain Clear Vision

If you’re considering cataract surgery or suspect you have a secondary cataract, our experienced eye doctors can answer any questions and recommend the best option to help restore clear vision. 

Is your vision cloudy or blurry? Schedule an appointment at Jacksonville Eye Center in Jacksonville, FL, today. You deserve crystal clear vision.