Can a Cataract Come Back?

By Tina D. Turner, M.D.

Because a cataract is a clouding, or opacification, of the natural lens, and cataract surgery entails removal of the natural lens, a cataract cannot come back after surgery. Fortunately, artificial lenses do not form cataracts.

Capsular Opacification

However, the lens capsule, which is the small "sac" or membrane that once enclosed the natural lens and held it in place, can become cloudy after surgery. This is called capsular opacification and it develops in approximately 25% of patients after cataract surgery.

If this occurs, the patient may develop symptoms that are similar to those of a cataract (See What Are the Symptoms of a Cataract?), such as blurry or hazy vision, difficulty reading regular print, and sensitivity to bright lights and glare.

Posterior capsular opacification is treated with a laser to create an opening in the center of the opacified lens capsule that allows light to enter the eye. The procedure is painless, requires less than five minutes, and is usually performed in the doctor's office.

Personal Stories

  • Paul and Dorothy Johnson: A Daughter's Story
    Read Paul and Dorothy Johnson's story, written by their adult daughter. Dorothy had cataracts and Paul had macular degeneration and diabetes. Learn how the Johnsons and their daughter made the decision to live together.

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