Within the eye, cataracts are inside of a bag (which is called the capsule). At the time of cataract surgery, the bag is opened, the cataract is removed, and an intraocular lens implant (IOL) is placed into the bag. Once the cataract is removed, it cannot return.
However, in approximately 1/3 of cases, the bag holding the IOL will itself get cloudy. If this occurs, your vision will have similar problems to before you had your cataract removed: blurriness, glare, halos around lights, etc. Some people call this cloudiness of the capsule a “secondary cataract.”
To treat a “secondary cataract,” you do NOT need to return to the operating room. Rather, the cloudy capsule is treated with a simple, painless laser procedure called a YAG capsulotomy. The procedure takes only about 5 minutes to perform, and your vision typically improves within just 1 day. There is an eye drop that you will use for approximately 4 days after the procedure, but unlike cataract surgery, there are no activity restrictions following a YAG laser.
The risks of a YAG capsulotomy are very low, but they are not zero. Some potential complications from this procedure include inflammation inside of your eye, elevated eye pressure, damage to the lens implant, retinal tears, and retinal detachment. Your surgeon will discuss these risks with you in greater detail, and answer any questions you might have.
If you believe that you have a secondary cataract, contact us for an evaluation.