YAG laser for capsule thickening after cataract surgery
What is a YAG laser capsulotomy?
YAG laser capsulotomy is a laser procedure that may need to be performed after cataract surgery in about 10% of cases in order to improve your vision. The special laser treatment is commonly performed and is very safe.
Why is it necessary?
When the natural lens inside the eye becomes cloudy forming a cataract, it is removed during cataract surgery and replaced by a new synthetic lens. This is placed inside the lens membrane (known as the capsule) in your eye which initially provides the necessary support for the new lens as it settles into the eye. In a small number of patients, around 10%, the capsule may thicken after surgery and cause cloudy or blurred vision, and glare in bright lights. The name for this is posterior capsule opacification or PCO.
Capsule thickening (PCO) commonly occurs around about two years after surgery although, in some cases, it can happen months after the cataract operation. During YAG laser capsulotomy I use a special lens to help focus the laser beam onto the capsule, which creates a small hole in the centre of the capsule and helps to let light through.
What happens during the procedure?
On the day of the procedure, I will take you into the laser room and sit you down comfortably at a machine with a chin and headrest that has a laser attached. I will put anaesthetic drops in your eye to numb it and to dilate the pupil before the procedure begins.
I will put a special mirrored lens on your eye before applying the laser beam, which allows me to view the membrane clearly. I will then apply the laser and make a small hole in it to clear the vision. You will hear a clicking sound and see a flashing light during the treatment. The procedure takes about 10 minutes and is not painful.
What happens during recovery?
I normally suggest that you sit and recover for about 5-10 minutes after the procedure. Your vision will be blurred for a few hours following the laser treatment because of the eye drops, which were used to dilate the pupils. I normally prescribe eye drops to use for 2-3 days in order to protect the eye against any inflammation or short term increase in eye pressure. It is normal to experience more floaters after the laser for 3-6 weeks. These normally settle with no other treatment. There is normally no need for any further follow up appointments after YAG laser capsulotomy.
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