Can you get cataracts after lens replacement surgery? There are some people who think cataracts will develop after refractive lens exchange (RLE), but this is not true.1 We\u2019ll cover the reasons why and how it can be misinterpreted below. What are cataracts? A cataract is when the lens of your eye clouds over. When we\u2019re young, we have clear crystalline lenses. Over time, they age and become more opaque, resulting in a significant reduction in vision. This usually happens for people in their 50s-60s, but can happen as early as your 40s in sunnier countries such as Australia. Your vision will get slowly worse if you leave your cataracts untreated. The difference between cataract surgery and lens replacement surgery These are two virtually identical procedures. The only difference being that lens replacement aims to accommodate for the symptoms of presbyopia (ageing eyes) and the cataract surgery is treating an active cataract. RLE (lens replacement) and cataract surgery both involve removing the natural, ageing lens with an artificial one, referred to as an IOL (intraocular lens). Typically if you\u2019re in your 40s, you\u2019ll likely have a \u2018hardened\u2019 or more rigid lens, whereby there\u2019s less flexibility for your lens to zoom in and out. As a result you\u2019ll have more trouble seeing things up-close and will often need reading glasses This condition is known as presbyopia. A cataract usually develops from untreated presbyopia which means the lens of the eye has become progressively harder and clouded. Symptoms of cataracts can include blurred vision, faded colours, halo patterns around bright lights2 and loss of night time vision. Neglecting treatment for cataracts can lead to vision loss and eventually blindness. Both procedures are the same. The only difference is the scenarios. So, if you choose to address your presbyopia with lens replacement surgery, you\u2019ll permanently resolve a variety of eyesight problems and won\u2019t develop cataracts later.3 This is simply because there was no cataract to address in the first place. You\u2019ve now replaced your natural lens with a life-long artificial one that cannot age. What about \u2018secondary cataracts\u2019? This is where it could get confusing. A lot of people misinterpret posterior capsular opacification (PCO) as a relapse in cataracts. PCO is not the same condition, it\u2019s actually a side effect of the lens replacement\/cataract surgery procedure. PCO can happen months or years after cataract surgery and it is common (as high as 50%).4 PCO occurs when the thin membrane called the eye capsule (the area that hosts the lens) gets clouded. This happens when proteins merge together at the back part of the capsule, creating a thin layer of scar-like tissue which produces symptoms that result in symptoms that are similar to cataract symptoms.5 This is fairly common and can happen to up to 50%6 of patients, several years after they\u2019ve had cataract surgery. The good news is we can address this issue with an easy and painless YAG laser capsulotomy.7 The surgeon cleans your capsule with the laser, polishing so that it\u2019s clear to receive light and revive your vision. Whether it\u2019s lens replacement or cataracts; we cover both. Book a free assessment with us to find out more about lens replacement surgery.