Is Cataract Surgery Permanent?

When you have cataracts, the only way to treat them is by having cataract surgery. The good news is that cataract surgery will remove your cataracts and restore your ability to see clearly, along with any vision loss you may have experienced because of them. 

Cataract surgery is also permanent because you’ll have your cataracts and natural lens removed during the procedure. After removing these, the natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens, or IOL. 

Getting cataracts again is impossible because they can’t form or develop on an IOL. You can, however, get something often called a “secondary cataract.”

The name is misleading because it is not a cataract. You can quickly treat a secondary cataract. Keep reading to learn more about cataract surgery and why it’s a permanent way of treating cataracts.

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts occur when proteins clump together and form on the eye’s natural lens. Your eye’s natural lens, which should be clear, typically starts to become cloudy as you age. 

This cloudiness is called a cataract. Cataracts tend to develop very slowly. They often begin forming in patients in their forties and fifties. 

However, you may not realize you have cataracts at first. They usually don’t cause any symptoms that affect your vision for years or even decades.

But when they do start to affect your vision and your ability to see clearly, you could experience symptoms like:

  • Blurred vision
  • Glare
  • Halos
  • Poor night vision
  • Trouble seeing color contrast
  • Light sensitivity

Seeing your eye doctor at New England Eye Center is necessary to determine if you have cataracts. If they diagnose you with cataracts, your ophthalmologist can monitor your vision for any signs or symptoms of the eye condition. 

They will better understand when you’ll need cataract surgery thanks to regular monitoring of your cataract progression. 

Cataract Surgery

Finding out you need cataract surgery may give you anxiety, but it doesn’t need to. After all, cataract surgery is one of the world’s most commonly performed medical procedures. 

Millions have cataract surgery every year. It’s a low-risk procedure with high success rates. 

During the procedure, your cataract surgeon makes a tiny incision into the eye and the lens capsule. The lens capsule is the thin membrane that contains your lens. 

They then break apart the lens and remove it through the incision. An IOL is then folded, inserted into the lens capsule, unfolded, and positioned. 

After placing the IOL inside the eye, this concludes the cataract procedure. No stitches or sutures are required as the tiny incisions close up on their own after a few weeks. 

When is it Time for Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgeons recommend patients have cataract surgery once their cataracts start affecting their quality of life. A good barometer for this is if you can no longer perform daily tasks because of impaired vision.

Do you struggle to do things like cook for yourself, do laundry, take your dog for a walk, or run errands? If you can no longer do these things, it could be time to consider cataract surgery to ensure you can see clearly again. 

After cataract surgery, you won’t have to worry about looking at the world around you through a dirty or foggy window. Instead, you’ll be able to see clearly and do what you love without worrying about visual impairment, giving you back your autonomy and independence.

“Secondary Cataracts”

Cataracts can only form on your eye’s natural lens. They cannot develop inside an IOL, so you don’t need to worry about getting cataracts again after having them removed. 

However, after you get cataract surgery, you may experience cataract-like symptoms. This is due to Posterior Capsule Opacification, or PCO, also often called a “secondary cataract.” 

PCO is not something that most cataract patients experience, but it can occur. Having PCO doesn’t mean you have a cataract. 

PCO occurs when the lens capsule has cloudy areas that can form during the healing process after cataract surgery. Unfortunately, the visual symptoms of PCO will not go away on their own and require treatment. 

But you don’t need to be concerned if you develop cataract symptoms after cataract surgery. After you get cataract surgery, you won’t need cataract surgery again. 

PCO doesn’t go away without treatment, but treating it is easy and doesn’t require surgery.

Treating PCO

The treatment for PCO is called a YAG laser capsulotomy. This procedure is non-surgical, non-invasive, and performed in-office at New England Eye Center. It only takes a few minutes to complete. 

After numbing your eyes with eye drops, your eye doctor uses a specialized YAG laser that only breaks apart tissue at a particular, highly concentrated point. Your ophthalmologist can shine this laser through your pupil into your eye to create a small hole in the lens capsule, allowing light to pass through it again to clear up the cloudy spots. 

After having a YAG laser capsulotomy, your vision should become clearer within 24 hours. You won’t have any downtime afterward and can return to your daily activities immediately after the treatment. 

Although you could develop PCO after cataract surgery, it doesn’t change that it is a permanent procedure preventing further cataract development. If your cataracts are beginning to affect your quality of life, you should have cataract surgery to get your vision back. 

There’s no need to worry about developing “secondary cataracts” after cataract surgery. If you develop PCO, it’s easily treated, and you can return to enjoying your life without cataracts.

Is it time to consider cataract surgery? Schedule your cataract consultation at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA! Why wait when you could finally see clearly and put cataracts in your rearview mirror for good?

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