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Posterior capsule opacification

Posterior capsule opacification (PCO) describes thickening and clouding of the back of the normally clear structure that holds your artificial lens in place. This causes vision to become blurred, increases glare and often it can feel like your cataract is coming back. Patients often describe it as looking through frosted glass all the time. It occurs in approximately 20% of patients after cataract surgery but is very easily treatable with a quick and safe laser procedure called YAG Laser Capsulotomy. Mr Yadav (Consultant Ophthalmologist / eye surgeon) has many years of experience and has performed thousands of highly successful laser procedures for his patients.

yag laser capsulotomy before treatemtn
YAG laser posterior capsulotomy diagram.jpg
YAG laser posterior capsulotomy after treatment

What causes posterior capsule opacification?

Usually no specific cause is found for posterior capsule opacification (PCO) formation. It is a common occurrence after cataract surgery and can occur to any patient. There is some evidence to suggest the type of lens implant used may influence the frequency of PCO but it can occur with any type. Certain patient risk factors make PCO formation more likely such as young age, diabetes and previous uveitis.


How is posterior capsule opacification treated?

A YAG Laser is used to treat this condition. The laser aims to clear the capsule so that light can travel unhindered to the retina once again. The effect is similar to changing a frosted glass window to a clear glass window so that vision is restored.   

What is YAG capsulotomy?

A YAG Laser is a special type of laser developed to treat the front part of the eye. When the lens capsule is targeted this is known as YAG capsulotomy. The laser directly treats the capsule but cutting through it so that the area treated becomes clear again. This has the effect of restoring the vision back to normal. 

What happens before YAG laser capsulotomy treatment?

Your vision will be checked and dilating drops will be applied to enlarge your pupil. This will make your vision blurred for 6 hours so you are advised not to drive until the drops have worn off. Once your pupils have dilated (approximately 20 minutes after the drops), you will be ready for your treatment. 

How is YAG laser capsulotomy treatment performed?

Once your pupil has dilated sufficiently, anaesthetic drops may be applied to the eye and you will be positioned on the laser machine (this feels similar to when your eye is examined on a slit lamp at your optician). Occasionally a contact lens is used to keep the eye steady but this is not required in most cases. You will see a bright light and hear clicking sounds as the laser procedure is carried out. The whole procedure usually lasts less than 5 minutes and you are free to leave as soon as it is completed.  

What happens after YAG laser capsulotomy treatment?

You are advised not to drive for 6 hours as the effects of the dilating drops may take this long to wear off. You can leave straight away and there is no specific aftercare. Patients often comment that their vision has improved even as they leave the laser room but it can take a day or two to see the full benefits of treatment. If you have specific risk factors identified by Mr Yadav, you may be given a short course of anti-inflammatory drops to use.

What are the risks of YAG laser capsulotomy?

YAG capsulotomy is a very safe procedure and complications are extremely rare. Floaters may appear in the eye but these usually settle shortly after the procedure. Occasionally the pressure in the eye can go up if you have pre-existing risk factors. In these cases Mr Yadav will check you eye pressure before you leave and prescribe any additional drops if this is needed. Damage to the lens may occur but this usually has no effects on vision. 

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