YAG Posterior Capsulotomy

YAG posterior capsulotomy is a minimally invasive procedure performed to correct the most common complication of cataract surgery called posterior capsular opacification or PCO. When this complication occurs, the patient experiences a recurrence of the visual difficulties that precipitated the original cataract surgery.

During cataract surgery, the clouded lens in the eye is removed from the lens capsule and replaced with a clear, artificial lens called an intraocular lens, or IOL. Weeks, months or even years after the surgery, some patients again experience diminished or abnormal vision. This may result if the lens capsule has become cloudy or wrinkled. When visual difficulties become too intrusive in daily life, a YAG posterior capsulotomy may be necessary

Candidates for YAG Posterior Capsulotomy

PCO, also known as a secondary cataract or aftercataract, affects one out of four patients within 5 years after cataract surgery. Patients who develop PCO after a cataract procedure may be candidates for the YAG surgery, but there is no necessity for a YAG posterior capsulotomy unless visual difficulties are seriously impacting the patient's quality of life. Patients may be candidates for the procedure if they:

  • Experience double vision
  • Are aware of a marked difference between vision of the two eyes
  • Experience visual impairment which interferes with routine activities such as driving
  • Experience visual difficulties at the workplace

Benefits of YAG Posterior Capsulotomy

Most patients experience improved vision and reduced glare after undergoing a posterior capsulotomy. They recover almost immediately and are able to resume a normal daily routine without residual visual problems.

Procedure of YAG Posterior Capsulotomy

YAG posterior capsulotomy uses a YAG laser to open a window in the back of the lens capsule. This window is opened to let light pass through to the retina, restoring clear vision.The posterior capsulotomy is a painless outpatient procedure that takes less than 15 minutes and can be performed in the doctor's office. Clearer vision is usually restored quickly. Visual improvement, however, depends upon the extent of the clouding experienced and on the patient's overall eye health. Patients are typically able to resume normal activities immediately after the YAG procedure.

Complications of YAG Posterior Capsulotomy

The possible risks and benefits of the YAG posterior capsulotomy, which are similar to those of the original cataract surgery, should be considered before a patient undergoes this corrective procedure. There is some small danger of damaging the implanted lens. The most common complication of the YAG capsulotomy is a temporary increased pressure in the affected eye. There is also an increased risk of a detached retina, but this occurs in only about 2 percent of patients who undergo the procedure.

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