Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Laser after Cataract Operation

Question: I had cataract surgery one year ago in May. My cataract surgeon told me on my last visit that the lens in one eye is cloudy. He said this happens and he would zap it with a laser. I can just notice a slight difference in my vision compared to right after surgery. Should I wait until it gets worse?

I only have good eyesight in the one eye. Can things go wrong with this procedure?

Answer: It sounds like you are describing the condition known as posterior capsule opacification or PCO. The crystalline lens of the eye is where a cataract forms. The crystalline lens has a soft protein center and is surrounded by a “capsule”. A cataract forms because the protein becomes cloudy. During cataract surgery microscopic instruments are used to break up and remove the cloudy material as this is what blurs your vision. However, the “capsule” is left in place and is where the surgeon places the intraocular lens implant (IOL). In some patients the capsule become “opacified” sometime after surgery leaving the patient’s vision cloudy and often with glare sensitivity, much like the symptoms they had from the cataract. Fortunately, using a YAG Laser it is possible to quickly, safely and effectively create an opening in the capsule along the visual axis that restores the vision almost instantly. This procedure called a “YAG Capsulotomy” takes only a few minutes using simple eye drop anesthesia without discomfort.

Generally speaking, the decision to perform a YAG Capsulotomy is prompted by patient symptoms, however this is not always the case as the surgeon may wish to do the laser procedure for other reasons. YAG Laser Capsulotomy is performed external to the eye through the pupil and although it is a surgical procedure it is not invasive, greatly reducing any risk. Still it is surgery and there is always a small risk of complications. That said, the risks and complications of YAG Capsulotomy are extremely rare and your surgeon would likely not suggest it if the risk to benefit ratio was not well in your favor.

Important Note: The information presented on the About Cataract Surgery Blog or provided in response to a request for information in the Ask Cataract Surgeons section on is not intended to diagnose or treat eye problems, eye conditions or eye diseases including appropriateness of treatment, risks, complications or side effects as related to Cataracts, Cataract Surgery of Lens Implants. In particular a response to an inquiry made on the Ask Cataract Surgeons section of is not meant to take the place of the professional medical care provided by your eye doctor, ophthalmologist and Cataract Surgeon. Contacting us via e-mail or any other means is not a substitute for medical care.

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