YAG Laser Eye Surgery after Cataract Surgery

YAG laser definition: Laser posterior capsulotomy, or YAG laser capsulotomy, is a noninvasive procedure performed on the eye to get rid of the opacification (cloudiness) that develops on the posterior capsule of the lens of the eye after extraction of a cataract. This differs from the anterior capsulotomy that the surgeon makes during cataract extraction to get rid of a cataract and implant an intraocular lens (IOL).

Laser posterior capsulotomy is carried out with Nd:YAG laser, which uses a wavelength to interfere with the opacification on the posterior lens pill. The energy discharged from the laser forms a hole in the lens pill, removing a main area of the opacification. This posterior pill opacification (PCO) is also described as a secondary cataract.

When Is YAG Laser Necessary

The natural lens has a cellophane-like outer lining called the capsule. During cataract surgery the back membrane of the natural lens (posterior capsule) is left in place to support the synthetic lens implant. The posterior capsule is generally clear, nevertheless, 3 out of 4 people who have cataract surgery will eventually establish a wrinkling or cloudiness of this membrane.

YAG laser
YAG laser. Laser that produces short pulsed, high energy light beam to cut perforate, or fragment tissuse.

The wrinkling or cloudiness which can develop months or years later on is a result of scarring (a normal healing reaction) and can hinder vision in methods just like the initial cataract. If the clouding of the posterior pill disrupts your vision, your eye doctor may suggest opening the pill to restore normal sight.

This is done with a procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy, whereby your doctor uses a laser beam to make a small hole in the posterior membrane to let light pass through and bring back clear vision. Although the laser procedure needs close and accurate focusing by the eye doctor, for the patient the method is a pain-free, outpatient procedure and is never ever part of the original cataract operation.

There is a common mistaken belief that cataracts are eliminated by a laser. This stems from that 3 from 4 people who have cataract surgery eventually need YAG laser surgery to eliminate the cloudy membrane which is typically described as a secondary cataract.

A YAG laser capsulotomy is a surgical procedure, however, the risks of a serious complication arising from this procedure have to do with 1/100th of the risks connected with a regular cataract operation. The most severe risk is of retinal detachment which at it’s onset display screens itself as a black drape coming over the eye affecting the side vision from any direction. The incident of retinal detachment may likewise be connected with the appearance of flashing lights. If you experience either of these symptoms you need to contact your eye doctor instantly.

Reyus Mammadli (Eyexan Team Leader) / author of the article
Bachelor in biomedical and electrical apparatus and systems. For more than 20 years he has been studying methods to improve health using affordable and safe methods. Collaborates with eye care charity organization of the CCP. Specialization is a vision correction by laser surgery, including LASIK.
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Ophthalmology: Health of Your Eyes
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