Posterior Capsule Opacification and YAG Laser Capsulotomy

Cataract surgery is currently the only truly successful way of treating cataracts. Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye starts to become cloudy over time. This is a result of cellular changes within the lens. Cataracts are progressive, and when patients find that their vision starts to become poor, they usually turn to cataract surgery to restore it.

During cataract surgery, the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with a clear, artificial lens known as an intraocular lens or IOL for short. This is placed inside the lens capsule which is the membrane that originally held the natural lens. The lens capsule is transparent and remains this way following cataract surgery, enabling patients to enjoy fully restored vision.

Posterior Capsule Opacification, also referred to as PCO, is an issue that can occur after cataract surgery and can cause further worsening of vision. Here’s what you need to know about Posterior Capsule Opacification and the treatment that can resolve it.

Understanding Posterior Capsule Opacification

Posterior Capsule Opacification is a relatively common issue caused by the cells remaining after cataracts surgery growing over the back of the capsule, causing it to become thicker and opaquer.

It is this opaqueness that makes it seem as though your cataracts have returned. This is because the opaquer the area becomes, the less light is able to pass through your eyes. PCO can occur at any point after surgery.

​​​​​​​Just like cataracts, PCO can affect just one eye or both (assuming you had cataract surgery on both). It can develop at different rates too. However, the good news is that if you have PCO in both eyes, you can have surgery on both the same day.

yag opacification treatment

YAG laser capsulectomy

YAG laser capsulectomy is the name used to describe the procedure used to treat PCO. The treatment uses cutting-edge laser technology, which is very safe and has few complications. The procedure involves making a gap in part of the back of your lens capsule, so the light can pass directly to the retina.

The procedure itself is performed under local anesthetic, meaning that you won’t experience any pain or discomfort. Dilating eye drops will be administered which will dilate your pupils. These can take up to 30 minutes to work, during which time you’ll relax and wait. Once your pupils are dilated, your surgeon will examine the retina to ensure that there are no other issues or abnormalities that need to be addressed. Then the laser capsulectomy will be performed. You’ll sit at the machine and a bright light will be shone into your eyes which will illuminate the capsule, although the laser light itself is invisible. You won’t feel anything, but you will hear a clicking sound that lasts for a fraction of a second as the laser shot is fired.

It’s normal for your vision to be blurred for a short time afterward, and we advise that you arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure since your pupils may remain dilated for several hours. Nevertheless, you will be able to return to most of your day-to-day activities right away. If you have any concerns after your procedure, our team will be on hand to help.

If you would like more information about Posterior Capsule Opacification, or to schedule an appointment, call 718-565-2020 today!