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Why Laser Treatment May Be Needed After Cataract Surgery

There may be some loss of vision post-surgery after eye cataracts have been removed. This does not mean that the cataracts have grown back, but due to a condition termed as “PCO.”

Post Surgery – what happens after cataract removal?

After an eye cataract is removed by surgery, there is a risk of the inserted artificial lens capsule rear to thicken – this is called posterior lens capsule opacification (PCO). This thickening causes cloudy vision and can be corrected using laser treatment to make the vision clear again.

Thickening of the artificial lens capsule makes less light travel through to the retina, which is located in the back of the eye. Vision can become blurred or there may be problems faced with bright lights and even find difficulty in reading.

PCO is more common the younger the cataract patient is. PCO is seen when inflammation (swelling) is present in your eye or for those with retinitis pigmentosa.

Research shows that an artificial lens that has a square edge seems to make it harder for cell growth in the back of the capsule. Therefore, to reduce PCO most lenses are now made square shaped of edged.

Laser Treatment – is it safe?

The laser procedure is considered very safe. There are no serious side effects, though there are some risks involved. In some cataract patients, laser treatment for PCO can cause eye pressure increase. This can become an issue if you already have a pre-existing condition, such as glaucoma, where the eye pressure is already higher than normal.

The posterior lens capsule opacification (PCO) procedure is painless and performed in an outpatient clinic, taking only 15 minutes. PCO is quite common and once your eye doctor has treated it, usually you will not experience any long-term problems with your eye sight.

What happens during laser treatment?

In most cases the doctor will use an eye drop to dilate the pupil before treatment. Once your pupil is dilated,your eye doctor will focus the laser exactly on the back of the lens capsule to cut away a small circular area. Some of the capsule is left behind to keep the artificial lens in place, but enough is removed from the middle to allow the enough light reach the retina. A small part of the lens capsule falls inside your eye area, but this is harmless and breaks down later. The eye doctor uses a red colored laser beam and you should not feel any pain or discomfort.

What happens after laser treatment?

After a day, your eyesight becomes clear again, and you may notice‘floaters’in your vision. These are harmless ‘dots’that float and move around inside the vitreous jelly-like substance of the eyes.

Since laser treatment has no cuts, incisions or stitches, you will be able to return to normal life and do your daily activities straight away.  

Post laser treatment, your eyesight should be restored to the level following your original cataract surgery. If you wore glasses prior to the cataract removal, you will continue to do so, but your vision should be clear again, unless you have other eye conditions.

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