During cataract surgery the lens inside the eye is removed, but most of the bag in which it is naturally held (known as the capsule) is left behind to hold the plastic lens implant that is put in. Sometimes the back surface of the capsule goes cloudy (posterior capsule opacification, PCO).
This is common, occurring in up to half all patients who undergo cataract surgery. It typically occurs within five years of surgery but can occur at any time. Sometimes the front of the capsule can shrink around the hole created in it at the time of cataract surgery (anterior capsule phimosis). These conditions cause blurry vision or glare, a bit like having a cataract again.
Luckily, the treatment is straightforward – laser can be used to make a hole in the capsule again. This is done in the eye outpatients department.
Typically your high street optometrist (optician) will identify this problem and refer directly to the laser service.
A hole is made in the capsule to clear the vision, leaving enough of the capsule to support the plastic lens implant. This does not hurt as there are no nerves in the capsule tissue. Success rates are very high.
During treatment, a special contact lens is used to focus the laser and to keep the eye open. Anaesthetic (numbing) eye drops are applied to keep the eye comfortable.
The treatment takes around 5 to 10 minutes and you can usually go home straight away.
Consultant: Mr Rob Munneke
Specialist Practitioner: Elizabeth Sullivan
You may also be seen by one of the other ophthalmologists (specialist eye doctors).
Where to find us
RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW
From the main hospital reception, turn immediately right for the West of England Eye Unit.
If you have any questions regarding your operation, please contact Eye Day Case Unit on 01392 406013. They are available 9am-5:30pm, Monday to Friday.
Our team provide cataract assessment and treatment at Axminster Hospital.
Children and young people
Cataracts in children and infants are uncommon and require specialist assessment and management by our Paediatric Ophthalmology team.