What Causes A Posterior Capsule Opacification (PCO)?

 In Colorado Springs Eye Care

Posterior capsule opacification (PCO) is a common complication that can occur after cataract surgery. It is characterized by the clouding of the posterior capsule, which is the thin, transparent membrane that surrounds the natural lens of the eye.

The most common cause of PCO is the proliferation and migration of lens epithelial cells that remain after cataract surgery. During the surgery, the front portion of the capsule, called the anterior capsule, is opened to remove the cloudy lens. The back portion of the capsule, known as the posterior capsule, is left intact to support the intraocular lens (IOL) that is implanted to replace the natural lens.

However, some lens epithelial cells may remain on the posterior capsule or proliferate after the surgery. These cells can undergo a transformation and form fibrous tissue, causing opacification of the capsule. The fibrous tissue can also contract over time, leading to wrinkling and further visual disturbances.

Other factors that may contribute to the development of PCO include:

  1. Age: PCO is more likely to occur in older individuals.
  2. Inflammation: Inflammatory processes within the eye, such as uveitis or chronic inflammation, can increase the risk of PCO.
  3. Pre-existing conditions: Certain conditions, such as diabetes or retinal disease, may increase the likelihood of developing PCO.
  4. Surgical technique: Factors related to the surgical procedure itself, such as incomplete removal of lens epithelial cells or residual lens material, can influence the development of PCO.

To treat PCO, a procedure called posterior capsulotomy is performed. It involves creating an opening in the center of the cloudy posterior capsule using laser or surgical instruments. This opening allows light to pass through the capsule and improves vision by removing the obstruction caused by the opacification.