The lens capsule is the natural structure that holds an artificial intraocular lens implant in place. In up to one in 5 patients after cataract surgery there can be some misting or opacification of this capsule as it shrink wraps around the lens implant during natural healing. You can think of the lens capsule as something like a clear plastic bag that houses the lens. When misting occurs within this capsule, it can interfere with your vision and a YAG capsulotomy will restore it.
When a cataract surgery is performed, the front of the lens capsule is opened in order to gain access inside and remove the cataract. The artificial lens implant is then placed inside the capsular bag. It is the back surface of the lens capsule that can become misty and so light can no longer pass evenly through to the retina at the back of the eye. Following a YAG capsulotomy, the expectation is the vision will be restored to the level it was after the initial cataract surgery.
Symptoms That a YAG Capsulotomy May Be Beneficial
Not all deterioration in vision following a cataract treatment can be put down to misting within the lens capsule. Consequently, it is always important to consult an Ophthalmologist for a full eye exam to exclude other causes. Sometimes one eye will be significantly worse than the other. In some cases, double vision can occur as well. Up to one fifth of cataract surgery patients will need a YAG capsulotomy at some point down the line, usually within the first two years of surgery.
What To Expect During a YAG Capsulotomy
Following an assessment from your eye surgeon, it may be decided that a YAG capsulotomy will be in your best interests to restore your vision. If so, there are a few things worth noting about the procedure:
- Patients sit at a machine that resembles an ordinary clinic slit-lamp microscope while being treated.
- The treatment takes only a few minutes.
- Dilating eye drops are given before the treatment so you can’t drive home after the treatment as these drops take a few hours to wear off.
- You blink as normal during the procedure.
- Local anaesthetic eye drops are used and the procedure is painless.
Are There Problems With YAG Capsulotomies?
Complications are rare, with around one in a thousand patients having a significant complication. Usually a YAG capsulotomy only needs to be performed once.