The lens of your eye is held in place inside an elastic-like capsular bag. During your surgery for cataract removal, this capsule was opened at the front (anterior) to remove the cloudy lens. A common complication of this surgery however is the buildup of cells on the back of the capsule (posterior), causing a film called Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO). This affects up to 50% of people that have had cataract surgery. It can decrease vision and cause glare, as you may be experiencing. Luckily, the film can be broken up using a special laser called Nd: YAG (Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet) that does just this. It is a cold laser that is safe, effective and painless, and does not require an incision of any kind.
What is Nd:YAG Laser Capsulotomy?
A YAG Laser Capsulotomy is a non-invasive procedure (requiring no incision), that is used to break up the film that has built up on the lens of your eye following cataract surgery, called Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO). It can be done in the ophthalmologist’s office or in the hospital as an outpatient procedure- you will be able to go home right away. Roughly 20% of patients that have had a cataract removed go on to have this treatment.
What happens during the procedure?
About an hour before laser capsulotomy, a pressure-lowering eye drop is administered, to prepare your eye for the procedure. A dilating drop will also be given, to enlarge the pupil. Your head will simply sit on the chinrest of the microscope that has the laser attached to it, so it will be important to remain still. The ophthalmologist will create a small opening in the posterior capsule with very short bursts from the Nd:Yag laser. Light will be able to pass through this opening, allowing you to see properly again. This is a brief procedure lasting only a few minutes, and although you might feel a little bit of pressure in your eye, it is not associated with pain. Most patients notice an immediate improvement in vision, while some see gradual improvement.
What to expect on Laser day:
- You do not need to arrive early for your appointment.
- You will be given dilating drops in the effected eye, the drops take approximately 15 minutes to take effect.
- The laser procedure takes approximately 10 minutes.
- Your vision can be blurry lasting up to 24 hours after the procedure, this is normal.
- 15 – 20 minutes following surgery a pressure check will be completed.
- You will be provided with a follow up appointment with Dr. Strungaru, this appointment will be at his office. Please ensure you have a ride home as your pupils will be dilated.
- You will be given a prescription for Ketorolac; to be taken as follows:1 drop in treated eye 4 times a day for 5 days.
- PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOU WILL BE AT THE HER OFFICE FOR AT LEAST 1-2 HOURS AND YOU WILL BE UNABLE TO DRIVE YOURSELF HOME, PLEASE HAVE ALTERNATE ARRANGEMENTS.
Are there possible risks?
As with any procedure, there are risks involved with treatment, although the risk is much smaller with laser capsulotomy as no incision is required. Rare complications do occur, and include retinal detachment.
After the procedure
After a laser capsulotomy, you will remain in the office for a short time so that the pressure in the eye can be evaluated. You will then be able to resume normal everyday activities.