YAG Laser

YAG Laser Capsulotomy – Laser Treatment after Cataract Surgery

Your eye following cataract surgery

When your cataract was removed, the natural lens of your eye was replaced with an intraocular lens implant or IOL. This clear lens implant is placed inside the clear natural lens capsule. Your vision is restored because the implant allows focused light to reach your retina, which sends visual messages to the brain.  The YAG laser capsulotomy surgery is a laser surgery that approximately 80% of patients need months or years after cataract surgery if the posterior capsule gets cloudy with time. The YAG laser is available in our surgery center so capsulotomies can be performed when necessary.

Why YAG laser capsulotomy may be necessary

A YAG laser capsulotomy may be necessary in approximately 80% of patients who have undergone cataract surgery. Vision can again become cloudy due to clouding of the posterior capsule, a natural part of the eye holding the lens implant in place.  Fortunately, your eye surgeon can usually restore your vision quickly by performing a laser treatment called YAG laser capsulotomy.

When the capsule becomes cloudy

The natural lens capsule is a thin, clear cellophane-like sac around the cataract. During implant surgery, the front of the capsule is removed and the cataract is emulsified and suctioned out of the eye. The lens implant is placed inside the lens capsule behind the pupil. Months or even years after the cataract surgery, the posterior layer of the lens capsule behind the lens implant may become cloudy; this clouding blocks light from reaching the retina, just as the cataract did. This clouding occurs eventually in about 80% of patients. Modern medical science has not developed a way to prevent this clouding of the lens capsule.

How YAG laser works

A laser is a powerful beam of light that can be focused to a tiny point. Because laser light can be precisely controlled, it is very effective and reliable. For a capsulotomy, your eye surgeon uses the YAG laser to deliver tiny, rapid bursts of energy to create a clear opening in the cloudy posterior lens capsule about the size of your pupil. This allows light to be focused clearly in the eye again, reaching the retina. The laser passes through the clear tissue at the front of the eye and through the implant without harming them. Enough of the posterior capsule is left behind to hold the implant securely in place.

Before YAG laser capsulotomy

Arrange to have a driver bring you to and from the Eye Surgery and Laser Center, LLC. Your vision may be blurry for a short time following the treatment until the dilating drops have worn off. You may undergo a visual exam, and both eyes may be dilated. Drops may be instilled to regulate the pressure in the eye. Your vital signs will also be checked.

Your YAG laser experience

The treatment is painless, and you can usually return to your normal activities within a few hours. There are no needles or stitches and no risk of infection. You will probably find your vision fully restored shortly following the treatment after the dilating drops have worn off.

Possible risks

You should be aware there are possible risks associated with any surgery, including the YAG laser. Eye pressure may rise briefly following the laser treatment. Drops are put in your eye before the laser surgery to minimize this risk. The long-term risk of glaucoma is not significantly increased after YAG laser capsulotomy.

The risk of retinal detachment is increased after YAG laser capsulotomy, although it is still a low risk (generally 1 – 2% unless there are other risk factors). To minimize this risk, all patients are asked to report immediately for a retinal exam any time new floaters are noted in their vision.  In rare (less than 1%) instances, after YAG laser capsulotomy patients may get transient retinal/macular edema, inflammation in the eye that can require eyedrop treatment, or the lens implant may slip out of place requiring surgical repositioning.  YAG laser capsulotomy usually quickly restores your vision to as good as it was shortly after the lens implant surgery. There is less than 1 in 500 chance that the clouding will recur.

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