Posterior capsule opacity – symptoms, causes & treatments
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Posterior Capsule Opacity

Sometimes called a ‘secondary cataract’, a posterior capsule opacity can occasionally occur after a cataract operation.

In a cataract operation, the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear, artificial lens. However, in some cases, a hazy membrane can form just behind the intraocular lens implant. This is known as posterior capsule opacity, and is very easily treated.

The condition is sometimes referred to as a ‘secondary cataract’, although it’s important to note that a genuine cataract cannot reoccur after cataract surgery.

Posterior capsule opacity symptoms

A posterior capsule opacity will only occur after cataract surgery. If you have recently had a cataract operation, and you have blurred, hazy vision, or see a lot of glare from lights, it may be because of a posterior capsule opacity.

Blurring and loss of vision from posterior capsule opacity is usually gradual, just as with real cataracts. While the symptoms are very similar to cataracts, there is no chance of an actual cataract re-forming after cataract surgery.

Posterior Capsule Opacity   Post-Op YAG Laser Capsulotomy
Left: Posterior Capsule Opacity. Right: Post-Op YAG Laser Capsulotomy

Causes of posterior capsule opacity

During a cataract operation, the surgeon will carefully remove the cataract from the affected eye, and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The lens is located within a very thin membrane ‘bag’ called the capsule. The front of the capsule must be opened to remove and insert the lenses. The back or ‘posterior’ of the capsule remains intact to support the new lens.

In a small proportion of patients – around 10% - the outer cells of the old lens remain, and grow on the capsule. This causes the capsule to become hazy or clouded, which results in blurred vision.

Treatment for posterior capsule opacity

The treatment for posterior capsule opacity is very simple. A procedure called a YAG laser capsulotomy is used to remove the haziness, and restore normal vision. It is a fast, painless and very effective treatment.

If you have recently had cataract surgery, and are experiencing symptoms of posterior capsule opacity, make an appointment with Eye Institute today.

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