Occasionally after having cataract surgery, the replacement lens inserted during cataract surgery can become cloudy, resulting in blurred vision. YAG laser capsulotomy is a technique used to correct the problem. YAG laser treatment makes a hole in the capsule to allow light to pass through to the back of the eye and help you see better.
Occasionally cataract surgery doesn’t work and – often several years after the operation – a small number of people notice their vision is becoming blurred again. 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.
Typical symptoms are:
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 outpatient procedure, typically lasts five minutes and involves no surgical cuts.
As well as offering the traditional artificial lens for the eye affected by a cataract, we offer premium lenses that correct several eye problems and improve your overall eyesight possibly eliminating the need to wear glasses or contact lenses. The procedure is similar to cataract removal and can be performed at the same time as having your cataracts removed. Some people also choose to have this treatment even if they are not having cataract removal surgery. Premium lenses:
Premium lenses are particularly suitable for those aged over 45 who use reading glasses and who are unsuitable for laser eye surgery. Our premium lenses are a superior version of the artificial lens, often removing the need for reading glasses for many people. People sometimes get these lenses to correct eye problems such as myopia and long-sightedness even if they don't have cataracts.
The procedure is usually 20-45 minutes long and is carried out after you have had anaesthetic eye drops to numb the eye surface. Your surgeon will replace the faulty lens with a new one.
While the NHS offers excellent care in this area you may find it hard to see a consultant quickly unless your symptoms are very severe. If you have private medical insurance or are willing to pay for the operation yourself, we can help. You may be referred to one of our respected surgeons via your own GP. We can also make sure you see one of our specialised consultants within a few days of your referral to us.
Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
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For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.
Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
Like cataract surgery, there are no specific pre-op requirements to undertake before YAG laser surgery. Eating a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables, and stopping smoking is always recommended though and will benefit your sight and general health.
We understand that having surgery can be a time of worry and anxiety. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
If you’ve already had cataract surgery, this procedure will seem very similar.
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.
If you are having premium lenses inserted, your surgeon will make a tiny cut on the surface of your eye and will insert your new premium lens.
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.
You will need to wait for an hour or two after the operation so the doctors and nurses can check that everything has gone okay but you should then be able to go home.
Your eye may be sore for a couple of days after the operation, so we will give you pain relief medication while you’re with us and to take home with you. Suffering from pain could slow down your recovery, so please discuss any discomfort with your doctors or nurses.
We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.
For a few days afterward YAG laser treatment:
However, these side effects are completely normal and should improve in a few days.
You can bend over, carry shopping, wash your face and hair and generally carry on with life as normal. However, you should avoid doing the following:
Many people who have laser eye surgery will need glasses before they can drive again, so check with the DVLA before you get back behind the wheel.
You should be enjoying a much clearer view of the world as soon as the side-effects clear up, usually 10-14 days after your operation
Once you’re ready to be discharged, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home because you won’t be able to drive. You should also ask them to help with shopping and cleaning for a few days, as your vision may take a while to return to normal.
We’re with you every step of the way through your recovery, even after you’ve left hospital.
After your operation we will provide you with all the appropriate medication, advice on what you should and shouldn't do, and any other follow-up support that your consultant says you need. Your consultant may want to see you after your treatment to see how you’re doing, if so an appointment will be arranged for you when you leave the hospitals.
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. We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns about your recovery, we're ready to help.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.