Secondary Cataracts

Wednesday, Nov 1, 2023 by Nisha Gupta, MD

This month we will discuss secondary cataracts or posterior capsular opacification (PCO).

What is a secondary cataract or PCO?

During cataract surgery, the cataract is removed, and an artificial lens is implanted in the eye. After surgery, the cataract does not return. However, small cells are left behind and can attach to the artificial lens implant months or years after surgery. These cells form a film on the lens known as a secondary cataract or PCO. This film can cause significant blurry vision, glare, or light sensitivity.

Who gets secondary cataracts?

Anyone can get these after they’ve had cataract surgery. They are more common in younger individuals (especially children) as well as patients with diabetes, inflammation in the eyes (uveitis), and cataracts due to trauma or injury.

How is it detected?

A comprehensive exam will allow the doctor to look at the lens implant for the opacification.

What are the treatments?

If the vision is not affected, these can be left alone without treatment. Generally, a laser procedure is done to remove the opacification. Complications are uncommon and usually the secondary cataract does not recur. In younger children, surgery may be required to remove it.

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