YAG (Yitrium Aluminum Garnite) laser capsulotomy is a commonly performed eye laser surgery sometime following cataract surgery. During the surgery, the ophthalmologist makes a hole or opening in the posterior capsule which is behind the intraocular lens implant (IOL) with a YAG laser.
The capsule that becomes cloudy after cataract surgery is the lens capsule that originally enveloped the cataract. The posterior capsule is left intact during surgery for two reasons. First, the posterior capsule prevents complications during surgery, including the cataract material falling to the back of the eye. Additionally, the capsule lends the safest position to place the IOL which allows the best vision quality after surgery.
In a significant minority of patients, the posterior capsule can gradually become cloudy days, months, and most typically, years after surgery. This produces symptoms similar to the original cataract: cloudiness, light glares, or lack of clarity. A full eye examination by your eye doctor can confirm the diagnosis of posterior capsule opacity.
The procedurewhen It’s performed by an ophthalmologist in an outpatient setting. I tell patients that the process is similar to coming in for a routine eye examination as opposed to an invasive surgery. The patient is seated upright and has a topical anesthetic drop placed into the eye after the pupil is dilated. The anesthetic allows the eye surgeon to place a lens on the cornea to prevent blinking and allows more accurate focus of the laser energy onto the posterior capsule. Sedation is unnecessary and there is typically no pain experienced with the procedure which lasts less than one minute.
After the procedure, the vision is still blurry but improves within 24 hours. Because the laser is performed without sedation and is noninvasive, patients can resume full activity immediately. Patients will be instructed to take anti-inflammatory eye drops for several days following surgery. A follow-up visit with your eye doctor is necessary within a few weeks to ensure that the vision is improved and you’re not experiencing any complications. The procedure is typically permanent since the posterior capsule does not “grow back” after surgery.
YAG laser capsulotomy is a common procedure and is highly successful and relatively safe. Therefore, if you feel your vision is not quite as clear after successful cataract surgery, schedule at full eye examination with Stiles Eyecare to see if you have posterior capsule opacity.