Cataract surgery is most often uneventful, especially when you are under the care of Laser Eye Center. As pioneers in modern cataract surgery, our surgeons practice finely honed surgical judgement and adhere to the strictest criteria for procedural safety and accuracy. Furthermore, we have invested in best-in-class technology that improves the predictability and efficacy of the surgery.
Being at the forefront of our field means that we are prepared and confident when challenges arise. The occasional cataract patient develops a complication that requires swift treatment. Laser Eye Center knows exactly how to put our patients back on the path to clear, independent vision with a procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy.
When Is YAG Laser Capsulotomy Needed?
YAG laser capsulotomy is performed on patients who develop a complication after cataract surgery called posterior capsular opacification, or a “secondary cataract.” This refers to a clouding of the capsule, or membrane, that holds the lens in place. (Prior to cataract surgery, it held the natural cataractous lens; after cataract surgery, it holds the intraocular lens implant.) During cataract removal, a few lenticular cells can remain attached to this membrane. After the surgery, those cells may proliferate along the membrane, which creates a fogging or film over the tissue.
The symptoms of posterior capsular opacification are very similar to those of a cataract. Many patients mistake the fuzzy, blurry vision caused by posterior capsular opacification for a recurrent cataract. Other symptoms of this condition can include double vision and glare around bright lights. Depending on a person’s daily activities, hobbies, and line of work, a secondary cataract can start to interfere with quality of life and productivity.
Though the symptoms can be similar to that of a cataract, make no mistake: posterior capsular opacification and cataracts are not the same thing. And, unlike a cataract, posterior capsular opacification does not require surgery to correct it. The condition can be easily fixed during a quick laser procedure known as YAG laser capsulotomy.
The neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet, or Nd:YAG, laser is an advanced technology frequently used in the treatment of various skin and eye disorders. The short, high-powered pulses of laser energy are a safe and effective way to open up the lens capsule and improve visual acuity.
The Surgical Experience
YAG laser capsulotomy is not an invasive or complicated procedure. One of the experienced doctors on our team can complete the procedure in a few minutes. In the dependable hands of a member of our team, the outcomes of a YAG laser procedure are usually excellent.
Prepping for the YAG Procedure
There is not a significant amount of preparation required in advance of YAG laser capsulotomy. You will review your eye health history with one of our eye doctors prior to the procedure and undergo a complete eye exam. Be sure to inform your doctor of all medications you take and any co-existing health conditions.
The goal of these pre-operative steps is to rule out any contraindications to laser capsulotomy. We are steadfastly committed to your health and safety and will only proceed with the procedure if we are assured it is in your best interests.
Our team will also review the benefits and risks of the procedure (risks are very rare) and explain what happens if you leave the posterior capsular opacification untreated. We believe it is important that you have all of the applicable information at your fingertips when making any decision about your medical care.
The Procedural Steps
For your comfort, you will receive eyedrops to numb your eyes before the surgeon gets started. Additional eyedrops will dilate your pupils so the surgeon can better visualize the capsule. You will be seated in a comfortable position and asked to focus on a specific target.
Using the YAG laser, the cataract surgeon will create a small opening in the back of the lens capsule at the site of the cloudiness. This opening allows light to pass through the lens capsule and on to the retina.
You may hear short clicks or pops as the laser works, but you will not experience any pain or discomfort. You should feel nothing but relaxed.
Immediately After the Procedure
After the procedure, you will remain in the office or surgical suite, where the team will monitor you for a short period of time. This is a precaution to ensure that your intraocular pressure, or the pressure inside your eye, does not spike unexpectedly. Most of the time, patients experience no such increase and are released to go home within an hour or so. We ask that you have a trusted friend or family member drive you home.
Recovering From the Procedure
When you return home, we recommend you rest your eyes for the remainder of the day. Visual recovery varies slightly by patient: some patients discover their vision is clear immediately, and others see improvements 24 hours after the procedure.
We may ask you to use certain topical or systemic medications for a few days after your procedure to help avoid infection. The exact medication depends on any current medications you take, relevant allergies, and your medical history.
You will likely feel good enough to resume work and the rest of your routine as soon as the day after your YAG laser procedure. We will advise you as to whether you should avoid or limit any of your normal activities (and if so, for how long). You may notice spots in your line of sight, or “floaters,” after the procedure, but these visual aberrations are only temporary.
It is important to see our doctors for your regularly scheduled follow-up visits to ensure the best results from your YAG laser capsulotomy. These visits are a good opportunity to discuss your visual recovery and bring up any potential problems. You are always encouraged to call us in between visits if you experience any troubling visual symptoms or changes.
Trusted Care When You Need It Most
The best cataract surgeons understand that no surgery is 100% predictable. When challenges arise, Laser Eye Center’s doctors are ready to act swiftly to provide immediate visual improvement.
If you develop any concerning visual changes after your cataract surgery, the best path forward may be YAG laser capsulotomy. Contact us promptly to schedule an evaluation with our team and get the answers you need.
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Get started on your journey to clearer, crisper vision with Laser Eye Center™. Our expert team of doctors are trained and skilled in the latest technology and methods for laser vision correction. To learn more about our state-of-the-art All Laser LASIK technology or about All Laser LASIK itself, contact us today. Schedule your FREE All Laser LASIK consultation by calling today.