For anyone undergoing lens surgery, the risk of PCO is unavoidable. In lens surgery, the eyes natural lens must be removed from the lens capsule (think of it as a tiny bag in which the lens lives) and is then replaced with an artificial lens. This initially restores high visual quality but unfortunately, in a small proportion of patients a regrowth of cells takes place on the back of the capsule which obscures light from entering the eye causing vision to appear cloudy again.
When a surgeon carries out lens replacement surgery, they have to open the front of the capsule to remove the natural lens and insert the artificial lens. To support the new artificial lens, the back or ‘posterior’ of the capsule is left intact. A process of scarring can take place on the back of the capsule. This scarring reduces the amount of light that is able to be absorbed by the eye, thereby reducing vision. Unfortunately there is no way to predict who will experience this but overall it affects less than 5% of all patients.
A natural process of scarring can occur on the capsule after cataract / RLE surgery. Some of the outer cells of the old lens remnants make their way to the back part of the capsule where they start to grow. This causes the posterior section of the lens capsule to thicken, and become opaque. The opacification makes it harder for light to travel through to the retina at the back of the eye. As a result, eyesight becomes hazy or clouded, which results in blurred vision. Some people also have problems with bright lights and glare.
The effect can feel similar to the effect of having a cataract which is why the condition is known as a secondary cataract. However, it is important to remember that once a cataract has been removed it can not return.
The treatment for PCO is YAG Laser Capsulotomy. YAG Laser Capsulotomy is a quick, painless procedure that can be carried out in an outpatient clinic. Results are immediate and highly effective.