WHAT IS YAG LASER CAPSULOTOMY?
YAG laser capsulotomy is a simple laser treatment commonly performed for those who develop ‘capsular opacification’ after cataract surgery.
Capsular opacification – also known as ‘after-cataract’, is the condition after cataract surgery where the membrane surrounding the artificial lens inserted during the surgery becomes thickened and cloudy. It is important for this membrane (called lens capsule) to remain intact during the original cataract surgery so it can wrap around and hold the artificial lens in place within the eye, much like a ‘cling wrap’. However, over time it is common for this membrane to become cloudy and thickened, looking more like ‘bubble wrap’ instead. This reduces the clarity of vision, giving rise to symptoms much like the original cataract again (e.g. visual blurring, glare, loss of contrast).
YAG laser capsulotomy uses pulses of focussed laser beams to cut a small ‘window’ in the centre of the cloudy capsule and allow clear vision through the opening in the artificial lens again.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A YAG LASER CAPSULOTOMY?
This is a procedure commonly performed in the clinic. Prior to the procedure, drops will be given to cause dilation of the pupil. It can take up to 30 minutes for these drops to work. The laser procedure itself is entirely painless and usually takes 1-2 minutes to complete. The vision will be blurry for a few hours before the pupil returns to normal size.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS?
YAG laser capsulotomy is a very safe procedure. It is common to notice slight transient visual blurring and floaters which usually settle within a few days. Serious complications are very rare, including exaggerated inflammatory reaction or reactivation of dormant infection within the eye, macular swelling and theoretical (but unproven) increased risk of retinal detachment.