The YAG laser is a quick and painless laser treatment that is sometimes needed to clear the eye’s capsule after cataract surgery. YAG stands for yttrium aluminium garnet, which is a type of crystal inside the laser.
In a small number of cataract surgery patients, the capsule that holds the lens implant turns cloudy. This is called posterior capsule opacification (PCO), and can develop anytime from a few weeks to a few years following the surgery. The cloudiness causes blurry vision, and can only be corrected with a YAG laser capsulotomy.
YAG laser capsulotomy is a fast and painless procedure. It is performed at our Spring Hill practice, so you do not need to visit a hospital to have it done.
The ophthalmologist will check your eye pressure and vision, then puts anaesthetic drops in you eye that will dilate your pupil. In some cases, a magnifying contact lens is placed in the eye to keep it focused during the laser session.
Our ophthalmologist will ask you to sit in front of the YAG laser machine with your chin resting on the chin rest, then begin the procedure. The YAG laser capsulotomy only lasts a few minutes; you should not feel any pain, but you may see sparkling lights while it takes place.
The YAG laser capsulotomy works by creating a clear hole in the cloudy capsule, which lets you see normally again. It’s a once-off treatment, and the cloudiness will not return. You should notice an improvement in your vision within a couple of hours.
About 10 minutes after the surgery, the ophthalmologist will examine your eyes and vision to confirm that the treatment was successful. If all is well, you will be allowed to go home.
Since your pupil is dilated during the procedure, you are not allowed to drive yourself home and will be very sensitive to light for a few hours. You may like to wear sunglasses after your appointment.
You may experience floaters in your vision for a few days following the surgery, but they will disappear soon after. Your eye may feel slightly sore or itchy during this time, but should not be too painful.
About 4 weeks later, our team will schedule a follow-up examination to confirm that your vision and eye pressure are normal.
YAG laser treatment has been performed since the 1980s and is considered safe. However, all medical treatments carry slight risks.
In rare cases, the procedure may lead to retinal detachment, or an increase in eye pressure. if this is the case, additional treatments may be required.
Other risk factors include:
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Obscured vision
The ophthalmologist will explain any likely side-effects to you before the procedure. If you notice anything different, contact the medical team immediately.
Other ophthalmic uses for the YAG laser
YAG lasers are incredibly versatile, particularly in ophthalmic procedures. As well as permanently treating PCO, they may be used to treat late-stage diabetic eye disease, or perform peripheral iridotomy.
- Peripheral iridotomy for patients with chronic & acute angle-closure glaucoma
- Treating vitreous eye floaters
- Panretinal photocoagulation in advanced diabetic eye disease
If you’ve had cataract surgery and developed blurry vision afterwards, a YAG laser capsulotomy might help restore normal vision. Contact Queensland Eye & Retina Specialists today, or ask your GP for a referral.