YAG laser

Driving Guidelines Fluorescein YAG laser





Treatment of a thickened posterior capsule following cataract surgery using the YAG laser


the thickened capsule scatters light

During a cataract operation, a clear plastic lens is placed in the ‘bag’ left behind when the cataract is removed.  The new lens focuses the light onto the back of the eye, just like the original human lens.  The ‘bag’ is called a capsule: the capsule  supports the implant. 

This capsule is normally clear like a glass window.  It is very thin, like cellophane.  In a small number of patients the capsule thickens up and becomes opaque, like a frosted glass window.  This stops the light reaching the back of the eye.

If this happens, your sight becomes misty and it can become difficult to see at night or in sunlight, as though the cataract is returning.  It is sometimes called 'after-cataract'. 


How long after cataract surgery is it likely to occur?

Capsule thickening can happen in the months after your cataract operation, but more commonly occurs three or more years after.  The capsule thickening does not damage the eye in any way, it merely makes the sight fuzzy.


Laser Treatment

Laser treatment makes a small hole in the centre of the capsule and can restore your vision to how it was after the cataract operation.  The treatment is a short painless procedure taking only about 10 minutes.

Before the laser is applied, the front of your eye is anaesthetised with an anaesthetic drop and a small contact lens is placed on your eye.  Resting your head on the frame of the laser, the laser is focused on the capsule. 

The laser then makes small holes in the capsule, often in a circle. The holes join up and, like tearing a postage stamp, a small hole is made in the capsule. The capsule segment drops to the bottom of the eye.

After the laser

The capsule segment drops to the bottom of the eye over a few days, and is normally not noticeable. You may notice a large floater at this time but it is normally not troublesome.

It is normal to have a floater for 3 weeks after laser treatment.

New spectacles

You may need a test for new spectacles and normally this is carried out at your own opticians.

Are there complications from laser?

The laser is considered very safe, with very few complications. 

1      Very rarely, a little more laser is needed to release the capsule on a second occasion.

2     Only a small hole in the capsule is needed so the lens implant still has enough support.  It is very rare for the lens to move.

3    The laser can disturb the retina, the film lining the back of the eye, possibly causing a tear.  

 If this happens you may notice: 

  • severe flashes of light during the daytime

  • severe floaters in your vision   (it is normal to have these in the weeks after the laser)

  • a "curtain" drifting across your vision (if the tear extends into a retinal detachment)

You should see an Ophthalmologist within 2 - 3 days.

 The risk of this is 1 in 500 cases.

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Page last updated on Saturday, 25 June 2005 12:36:26


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