What is posterior capsule opacification (PCO)?

Cataract surgery is one of the most common, safest and successful surgeries performed in the U.S. Few issues arise after any cataract procedure, and the vast majority of patients come to have the best vision they have experienced in years. However, about 30% of patients will develop something called posterior capsule opacification (PCO).

Cataract surgery involves the removal of the cloudy natural lens and its replacement with a new artificial one. The lens is placed in the lens capsule – the thin, clear, membrane that used to surround the cataract. Sometimes the back, or posterior, part of the capsule becomes cloudy after surgery. This is not a return of the clouded lens, despite some people calling it a “secondary cataract,” but a growth of cells on the back membrane of the capsule. This is posterior capsule opacification.

These extra cells prevent light from traveling properly through the eye to the retina. The result is blurred vision, and oftentimes problems with glare and bright lights. Vision is reduced similarly to what the patient experienced prior to cataract surgery.

PCO treatment

PCO treatment at Tower Clock Eye Center is simple. Our doctors use a laser that eliminates the problem cells to allow light to pass through to the retina. The procedure, known as a YAG laser capsulotomy (often referred to simply as “YAG”), uses a highly accurate, low energy laser to restore crisp vision.

The laser is safe and presents a low risk of damage to the eye. The procedure is similar to an eye exam, and usually takes less than 1 minute to complete; there is no discomfort during the procedure. Patients may experience an increased amount of floaters in the eye after treatment. This is a common occurrence and usually resolves itself within a few weeks. Vision is usually fully restored within a day or two after treatment. Once treated, PCO will not return.

If you have recently had cataract surgery and are experiencing the symptoms of PCO, please contact our office to make an appointment at (920) 499-3102.

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