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Cataract surgery can indeed be called a modern marvel of medicine. You are diagnosed with cataract and your doctor recommends a laser surgery. The operation is set up. You reach the hospital, and one hour later, you are walking out.

Thanks to the revolutionary cataract surgery, millions of people have got back their vision. But then, nothing is perfect. As with any other surgery, even cataract surgery has certain side effects.

What is Cataract and Treatment Options

The process in which the eye’s natural lens gets opacified is known as a cataract. A common reason for vision loss among people aged 40 and above, cataract develops over time.

The slow buildup eventually leads to the complete opacification of the lens. Patients with cataracts feel as if they are looking at the world through some dirty and cloudy window.

A cataract is usually treated through surgery. Cataract surgery or lens replacement surgery involves removal of the natural lens and replacing it with a clear, flexible lens known as an intraocular lens.

Advancements in technology have ensured that the bar of having a better artificial lens and superior surgical experience is continuously being raised.

Posterior Capsule Opacification (PCO)

One of the common side effects of cataract surgery is the development of PCO or posterior capsule opacification.

Also called a secondary cataract, it is known to affect about 20% of those who have undergone a cataract procedure.

In PCO, scar tissues start forming behind the lens implant. It is due to the migration, proliferation, and differentiation of LECs (lens epithelial cells). PCO causes significant visual symptoms, more severe when the central visual axis is involved.

Despite advancements in surgical techniques, designs of the intraocular lens, and development of several therapeutic agents that aim at inhibiting PCO, it continues to pose a burden on the patients as well as the health care system.

While a majority of patients who develop PCO get fine after further treatment, others develop further medical complications, which might include retinal damage.

Prevention of PCO at the very outset is the best treatment option.

Research Studies

Research done on PCO by Dr. Melinda Duncan in a project backed by the National Eye Institute (NEI) has discovered the presence of several molecules that play a vital role in PCO scar tissue formation.

Dr. Duncan and her team are working on clinical interventions that will help in blocking this condition.

Dr. Duncan, in another research supported by Delaware Center for Translational Research’s Shovel-Ready Pilot Grant as well as Delaware INBRE dual-core access award, is investigating the PCO trigger mechanisms that happen immediately after cataract surgery.

During her research, Dr. Duncan discovered that one of the primary triggers for post-surgical inflammation is the production of molecules by lens cells that are left behind after cataract surgery.

This is important as patients are prescribed anti-inflammatory eye drops after their operation for the prevention of retinal pain and damage. This inflammation can also cause scar tissue in other organs.

Dr. Duncan’s work can help in determining why inflammation happens in the first place and how to avoid it in the future. The findings have been published by Dr. Duncan’s group in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Prevention

While PCO can be treated using Nd: YAG laser capsulotomy, the possibility of additional complications and the cost associated with it make PCO prevention a vital goal.

Also, as new and more accommodating IOLs hit the market. PCO prevention will get a major boost.