What is a posterior capsulotomy?
Posterior capsulotomy is a surgical procedure which is sometimes necessary to clear vision after cataract surgery. The normal lens inside the eye focuses light rays. This lens has a cellophane-like outer lining called the capsule, and inner layers called the cortex and the nucleus. Normally the lens is clear. When it becomes cloudy and interferes with vision, it is called a cataract and the treatment is to remove it surgically.
What does the capsule have to do with cataract surgery?
There are several ways to perform cataract surgery. The most frequent modern method is to remove the cloudy portion of the lens, leaving the back posterior part of the capsule intact. This technique has the advantage of maintaining the normal barrier between the two inside compartments of the eye. The back part of the capsule may be used to support an intraocular lens implant which is usually placed in the eye at the time of cataract surgery to replace the eye’s natural lens.
Why is a posterior capsulotomy necessary?
The posterior capsule is normally clear. However, with the passage of time, this capsule can itself become cloudy or wrinkled. It acts much like a piece of cellophane which is easy to see through when stretched tight, but harder to see through when wrinkled. This wrinkling or cloudiness can interfere with vision in ways similar to the original cataract. If clouding of the posterior capsule interferes with your vision, your ophthalmologist may surgically make an opening in the capsule to again restore normal sight. This can be done using a needle or with laser surgery. It is not necessary to remove the capsule, but only to make an opening in the center to allow the clear passage of light rays. Although the laser procedure requires close and precise focusing by the ophthalmologist, the technique is usually painless and generally works quickly for the patient. While these techniques of posterior capsulotomy are usually effective, as with any surgical procedure, rare complications can occur such as hemorrhage, and loss of vision.
When should a capsulotomy be performed?
If your best vision falls off after cataract surgery, it is important to consult with your ophthalmologist. A capsulotomy may be recommended when your vision bother you enough and your ophthalmologist feels the capsule is at fault. Many people may eventually need a capsulotomy after cataract surgery, especially younger people. The need for a capsulotomy should not cause undue concern since the clouding or wrinkling is a part of the body’s natural healing process in a certain percentage of patients.
Why are regular medical eye examinations important for everyone?
Eye disease can occur at any age. Many eye diseases do not cause symptoms until the disease has done damage. Since most blindness is preventable if diagnosed and treated early, regular medical examinations by an ophthalmologist are very important. Why an ophthalmologist? Because an ophthalmologist (MD or osteopath) provides total eye care: medical, surgical and optical.