Can Cataracts “Grow” Back?

Reviewed by: Jason Jacobs, M.D. and Leslie Doctor, M.D.

Question: I had my cataract removed and a lens implant put in about 6 months ago. The vision was really good until 2 weeks ago when I started having the night driving glare all over again. I think my cataract came back but I didn’t think this could happen. Can cataracts come back?

Answer: Once a Cataract is removed, no, it cannot come back. What you may be describing is possibly a condition called “posterior capsular opacification”. The crystalline lens of the eye is where a Cataract forms. While it might sound a little funny, the crystalline lens is structured like an M&M candy. The crystalline lens has a soft protein center and is surrounded by a capsule-kind of like the structure of an M&M candy. A Cataract forms because the protein becomes cloudy. During Cataract Surgery your Cataract Surgeon uses microscopic instruments to break up and remove the cloudy material as this is what blurs your vision. However, the eye surgeon leaves the “capsule” in place. In fact the surgeon will actually place the intraocular lens implant (IOL) to correct vision inside the capsule to help correct your vision. In some patients the capsule become “opacified” some time after surgery leaving the patient’s vision cloudy and often with glare sensitivity, much like the symptoms they had from the Cataract. Fortunately, using a YAG Laser the Cataract Surgeon is able to quickly, safely and effectively create an opening in the capsule along the visual axis, which restores the vision almost instantly. This procedure called a “YAG Capsulotomy” takes only a few minutes and is often performed right in the comfort of the eye doctor’s office using simple eye drop anesthesia without discomfort. So, the simple answer to the question “Can a Cataract come back? is no. However a condition called “posterior capsular opacification” can make it seem like the Cataract has returned. As always, choose a reputable Cataract Surgeon with experience in performing YAG Capsulotomies who will takes the time necessary to evaluate you properly and guide you through the right diagnosis and treatment options.

The information that has been provided here is intended to give patients a basic understanding of Cataracts and YAG Capsulotomy after Cataract Surgery for posterior capsular opacification. It is possible that your individual experience might be different. None of the information provided here is meant to be a substitute for or replace your eye doctor's consultation nor does it replace the need for you to consult your Cataract Surgeon about specific details of Cataract Surgery and Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implantation.

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