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YAG Laser Capsulotomy

When a cataract is removed a thin, clear membrane (the back capsule of the original lens) is left behind to support the lens implant. In a minority of people this membrane can become cloudy. This is known as Posterior Capsule Opacification (PCO) and can cause blurred vision or glare. A laser, which is a highly concentrated beam of light, can be used to make a small gap ("capsulotomy") in the centre of the membrane. The vision is often restored back to how it was immediately after the cataract operation.

YAG Laser Capsulotomy

Picture of right eye following a YAG laser capsulotomy.
The arrow points to the new opening in the cloudy capsule.

The laser treatment is performed as an out-patient and is usually straight forward. Drops are used to widen the pupil and anaesthetic drops numb the surface of the eye. A small magnifying lens is placed on the surface of the eye which keeps the eye open and still. The laser capsulotomy is painless and usually takes 5-10 minutes. Immediately after the laser the vision is often blurred for a few hours and the eye may be temporarily more sensitive to light. Anti-inflammatory drops are prescribed for one week and an improvement in vision should be noticed within a day or two.

Yag laser capsulotomy is regarded as a very low risk procedure but <1% of people may have a complication including increased floaters, a temporary rise in eye pressure, “pitting” of the lens implant, macular oedema (swelling of the retina) or a retinal tear/detachment which can occur years after the treatment.