YAG Laser Procedures

What is a YAG laser posterior capsulotomy?

It is a non-invasive laser procedure to eliminate the cloudiness that occassionally interferes with a patient’s vision after cataract surgery.

During cataract surgery the cataract is removed but a thin membrane that held the cataract is left in place to hold the implanted artificial lens. Leaving the capsule in place during cataract surgery allows the vision after surgery to be more stable and ensures fewer surgical complications. However, sometimes the posterior or back portion of the capsule becomes cloudy over time. This can be resolved with a quick laser procedure performed in the outpatient clinic.

A posterior capsulotomy is for those who:

Have had cataract surgery and, those whose vision is being affected by cloudiness.

Pre-Operative Evaluation

What to expect on procedure day

Once you have been booked in by the receptionist you will have a vision test and the pressure within your eyes will be checked. The procedure will be explained once again to you and you will be asked to sign a consent form. Drops will be used to dilate your pupil and then to numb your eye; no injections or needles are used. When your eye is completely numb, contact lens will be placed to help focus the laser accurately and also keep you from blinking.

Your ophthalmologist will use a YAG laser to create an opening in the centre for the cloudy capsule. The opening allows clear passage of light rays and eliminates the cloudiness that was interfering with your vision.

The actual procedure only takes about five minutes, however you will need to have the pressure in your eye checked again approximately 45 minutes after the procedure, if this is normal you will then be able to go home. The results are almost immediate, however your vision will probably be a little blurry from the drops and the dilation, so someone will need to drive you home. You will be given a follow-up appointment for 6 weeks time, at which your pupil will be dilated, so again you will need someone to drive you home.

Risks and Complications

Serious complications with posterior capsulotomy are extremely rare. It is a safe and effective procedure, but like any medical procedure, it does have some risks. The most common being the rise in pressure within the eye. If this occurs then you may be given drops, or a combination of tablets and drops, to reduce the pressure. There is also a slightly higher risk of retinal detachment and also swelling of the macula both of which are rare if the laser treatment takes place more than 6 months following original cataract surgery.

Going to an eye specialist experienced with the procedure can significantly minimize the risks involved with posterior capsulotomy.

If you and your doctor decide that posterior capsulotomy is an option for you, you will be given additional information that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether to proceed. Be sure to have all your questions answered to your satisfaction.