Secondary Cataract: What Is It And Are You At Risk?

There are many complications that could arise after a cataract surgery. And one of them is a secondary cataract. What exactly is this about? What will happen in this condition? Find out here

Eye checkup

Cataracts happen to be one of the most common eye conditions in old people. And the most common medical intervention is surgery. There are a lot of things that happen after surgery, and one of them is a secondary cataract. A secondary cataract is simply a fancy term for after-cataracts. It starts after cataract surgery has been carried. Is this very common? Well, the chances of having this after the surgery are small. But even at this, it’s very important to know about this condition if you would be undergoing cataract surgery. That way, you wouldn’t be alarmed when the symptoms return. 

The fancy medical term for this is posterior capsule opacification. Here there is a coming together of lens epithelial cells remaining in the eye. They come together in the lower portion, and this would cause another cataract to develop. Just about a third of people that do the surgery would have this. That’s why after doing cataract surgery, the doctor would ask you to keep coming for checkups. Anyway, there is a certain risk believed to increase the chances of someone having it. We will be looking at some of these things and what can be done about it. Let’s delve right into it. 

What Is It? 

You probably already have an idea of what cataract is since it’s quite common. But there are chances that you don’t know what secondary cataract is all about. Cataract surgery is very common and some complications come with it. One of the complications happens to be secondary cataracts. 

The medical term for this complication is posterior capsular opacification. There’s a membrane that surrounds the lens capsule. If this membrane is not removed during the surgery secondary cataract would develop. The symptoms of this are quite similar to cataracts. 

There are two types of this condition. It could be either pearl or fibrous. There are times though, that these two are present in one person. Certain things must happen for this to occur. First, there must be the growth of cells. Then the cells would come together and move to the area that is currently affected. Then there can be differentiation of the cells, which would lead to a problematic cell type. 

Take note that this doesn’t just happen in the twinkling of an eye. It would take months and even years after doing the cataract surgery for this to happen. The sad thing though, is that there’s no way you can find out if you would develop it or not. Also, nobody can tell how long it would take for this to develop and even progress. 

According to statistics, for so many years about half of the people that have done cataract surgery have had this over the years at different times. But now, the rates have dropped to about 4-12% of people that have the complication. 

As of now, researchers are still looking for ways they can reduce the risk or even prevent it from happening. That’s because up till now, it remains one of the most common complications people have after cataract surgery. 

Are You Risk For Secondary Cataracts? 

Indeed, you can’t tell if a person will have a secondary cataract or not. But it has been found out that some risks would increase the chances of someone having secondary cataracts. There are some cases though that have been identified to be linked to the use of steroids and other diseases. Let’s take a look at some of the risk factors. 

  • Young age: It has been found out that people that have cataract surgery at a young age are at increased risk. As long as you below 60 when you had the surgery the chances are high. 
  • Diabetes: Also, it has been identified that people who are diabetic are at increased risk of having secondary cataracts. It has been found out that after a year of doing the surgery they usually develop a secondary cataract. 
  • Uveitis: Also, people that have this condition are at increased risk of having secondary cataracts. This is a condition wherein the uvea of the eye is inflamed causing itchiness and redness of the eye. 
  • Myotonic dystrophy: This condition belongs to the group of muscular dystrophy. It is an inherited disease. And the symptoms start to show during adulthood. There are muscle contractions that occur frequently. Usually, they would need multiple capsulectomies after doing the first surgery. 
  • Traumatic cataracts: If the cause of the first cataract is trauma to the eye or head then the chances of having a secondary cataract are high. According to a study, the incidence is as high as 92% after 3 years of doing the first surgery. 


It’s true that have secondary cataracts can be quite annoying and frustrating but the good news is that the treatment option is quite simple. The procedure used is known as YAG laser capsulotomy. What this procedure does is that the laser makes a small opening in the capsule and then shines light through until it gets to the retina. 

It’s quite fast and painless. It would take just about 5 mins of your time. The thing though is that you might have to wait in the doctor’s office for about an hour. This is to ensure that there are no problems after the procedure. Then after a few days, it is expected that you would have better vision. 

Are there any risks associated with this? Yes but the thing is the risk is very small and rare. The fact that no incision is done and it isn’t done for a long time reduces the risks a whole lot. So you have nothing to worry about when it comes to this procedure. But just in case you feel there’s a problem with your eye after the procedure makes sure you visit your doctor so that you can have your eye checked. 

A secondary cataract is a common complication after cataract surgery. So there are chances you may or may not have it. Just in case you have it make sure your doctor knows about it so that it can be treated. 

What Is Secondary Cataract?

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