Blurred vision after cataract surgery?

Having clear vision and seeing beautiful colours once more after cataract surgery is a truly wonderful phenomenon. What happens if you notice that your vision is not quite as clear as it was just after the operation and what should you do about it.

The human lens/cataract is held in place inside the eye by a capsule. The capsule is like a ‘shrink-wrap’ suspended just behind the pupil by tiny springs called zonules. The skill in cataract surgery is removing the lens without damaging the capsule as this holds the new lens implant that allows you to see so clearly. The capsule is initially clear but after a cataract operation, it can become cloudy or frosty just like having a cataract again.

This is called ‘posterior capsule opacification or PCO.’ It’s common and it’s not a major problem. You may have heard people say ‘my cataract came back.’ Strictly speaking, this isn’t true as the human lens when removed is gone forever. What they mean is that the capsule frosted over and their vision was like it was when they had the cataract.

PCO is easy to diagnose on the slit lamp microscope. It is simple to treat with a laser known as YAG laser capsulotomy. This laser treatment is painless and takes approximately 15 minutes to do. You have your eye dilated and put your chin onto a microscope very similar to the one you’re used to when you are having a normal eye examination. A contact lens is used to focus the laser treatment precisely on the frosting and it clears it away, rather like cleaning your car windscreen of frost in the morning. You see a bright flashing light but it is painless. Recovery is quick with the vision improving over the next day or two. It doesn’t involve going to theatre and you can go home straight away.

If you think you may have PCO then an eye examination is the best way to confirm this. With a simple treatment the clarity your vision can be restored and you can see in technicolour again.

More about Laura Crawley

Ms Laura Crawley is a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Clinica London, Imperial College Western Eye Hospital, and The London Clinic. Her special expertise is in treating glaucoma patients as well as patients with glaucoma and cataracts. She has a lot of experience in treating glaucoma and has published extensively in scientific journals and on medical education. She still does a lot of emergency operations at the emergency department at the Charing Cross and Western Eye Hospitals for the NHS. At Clinica London, she is responsible for glaucoma patients and glaucoma patients with cataracts. She also sees patients with general eye problems.