What is a Cataract?
A cataract is when the clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy, which is caused by a build-up of protein. When you reach about 60 years old, you are more likely to develop advanced cataracts that can affect your vision. This is a natural process that happens as a person ages.
If you have a cataract, you might experience vision problems like blurry, cloudy or dim vision, especially at night. You could also have light sensitivity and see halos around lights. Fading or yellowing of your vision, or double vision in one eye, are also symptoms of cataracts.
How Does Cataract Surgery Work?
During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL), which helps you see clearly again. Modern cataract procedures involve the use of an ultrasound device that breaks up the cloudy lens into small pieces, and those pieces are removed from the eye with suction.
A standard cataract procedure can correct either distance or up close vision, and this procedure is typically covered by insurance and Medicare. Patients who choose the standard lenses may still need to wear glasses when driving or reading.
Upgraded lenses are available out-of-pocket if you want to decrease your dependence on glasses after surgery. Multifocal lenses can correct both up close and distance vision, and astigmatism can also be corrected, depending on which package you choose.
What is a Secondary Cataract?
Several weeks, months or years after cataract surgery, some patients may develop vision impairments again and worry that their cataract has “grown back.” But, that’s not the case.
In some cases, the posterior lens capsule can become cloudy in several weeks, months, or years following cataract surgery. In medical terms, this is called posterior capsular opacification (PCO). This is also sometimes referred to as a secondary cataract.
A secondary cataract can be eliminated with a YAG laser capsulotomy, which is a quick, in-office procedure. The specialized laser creates a clear “window” in the cloudy capsule (sack) that the lens is sitting in, which allows your vision to be clear again. The YAG procedure is a quick, painless procedure that usually does not need to be done again.