What’s involved in the laser capsulotomy procedure?
People who have had cataract surgery can develop clouding behind the lens in their eye, making it difficult to see. This condition is called posterior capsular opacification, PCO.
The lens of your eye is held in a thin clear lining called a capsule. During cataract surgery the natural lens is removed from the capsule and replaced with a clear plastic lens. Over time in some patients the capsule behind the lens can thicken. This can stop light passing through to the light-sensitive membrane at the back of your eye, resulting in blurred vision.
YAG laser capsulotomy is a type of laser treatment that is used to make a hole in the capsule to allow light to pass through to the back of the eye and help you see better.
The treatment is routinely done as an out-patient procedure and involves no surgical cuts.
Your surgeon will explain the benefits and risks of having Yag laser capsulotomy, and will also discuss the alternatives to the procedure.
About the procedure
The treatment is usually carried out in the consulting room. About 20 minutes before the treatment, you will have anaesthetic eye drops put into your eye to gently numb the surface of the eye. You may also have another set of eye drops to open up (dilate) your pupil. These drops may sting a little and you may not be able to see properly for a while – things may be a bit blurred or distorted.
You will be asked to sit in a chair and your surgeon will put a small contact lens on your eye. You will then be asked to rest your chin on the frame of the laser machine to help keep your eye still. Your surgeon will carefully direct a laser beam into your eye. The beam will make a hole in the clouded capsule behind the lens so that light will be able to pass through this to the back of the eye.
The procedure usually takes five minutes and is not painful.
After the eye drops have worn off you should notice that the cloudiness has eased and your vision has improved. The extent of the improvement depends on how cloudy your sight was to start with and the overall health of your eye.
Laser eye treatment for posterior capsular opacification is very successful but all medical procedures carry an element of risk.
There is a slight risk of increased pressure in the eye after laser treatment. This can be treated with eye drops.
It’s also possible, but very unusual, that your retina (a layer of nerves at the back of your eye) can become detached from the back of the eye. If this happens you may need to have surgery straight away to prevent you from losing your sight.
Although complications from this procedure are uncommon, the chance of any problems depends on the overall health of your eye and other factors such as your general health. Ask your surgeon to explain how any risks apply to you.