Frequently Asked Questions
YAG Laser FAQs
What is Posterior Capsular Opacification?
When you undergo cataract surgery, the new lens is placed carefully in the ‘bag’ that held the old natural lens in place. In about 1 in 10 patients, this ‘bag’ begins to scar to a degree that the ‘bag’ becomes cloudy and makes seeing difficult and misty. It’s a bit like when you cut yourself, a scar forms. The ‘Posterior Capsular Opacification’ is essentially scar formation.
What is the purpose of YAG laser treatment?
The purpose of a laser treatment (capsulotomy) is to create an opening in the cloudy membrane in order to restore vision. This provides a clear passage for
What happens before the day of treatment?
You will have received the information leaflet on YAG laser treatment which you should read. You will also have eyedrops sent to you to instill in the eye to have the laser a minimum of 30 minutes before you arrive.
What happens on the day of treatment?
This is nothing like your cataract operation, but more like a consultation. You will be in and out without realising anything has been done! The nurse will check you vision and answer any questions, who will then hand you over to the clinician. Before agreeing to undergo laser treatment you will need to sign a consent form signifying that you understand the risks and benefits of the procedure. We encourage you to ask any questions which may arise before signing the consent form.
What are the intended benefits of the laser?
In essence, the goal of laser is to improve your vision back to the level it was after you had the cataract removed. If you suffer other eye problems, the vision may not improve as much as we would like.
What are the risks of laser treatment?
As with any procedure, laser treatment has risks. An improvement in eyesight cannot be guaranteed. Serious complications are however rare but include:
- Retinal detachment – the retina, which is the inner lining of the eye, can become detached. If untreated, this can lead to reduced or complete loss of eyesight, but if detected early it can usually be successfully treated. This happens in 1 to 2 in 100 patients
- Macular oedema – the retina can become swollen causing blurring of vision. This can be treated medically but may take several weeks to improve. The chance of macular oedema after laser capsulotomy is 1-2%, but may be higher in diabetic patients.
- Worsening of glaucoma or causing glaucoma (raised pressure) in the eye. This usually can be medically treated and has an incidence of 1.5% after capsulotomy.
- Rarely the lens may be damaged by the laser causing visual problems. In exceptional circumstances, the lens may subsequently need to be changed.
- Very rarely, additional medical or laser treatment may be needed after the procedure to obtain the best vision.
How is the procedure carried out?
- Your vision will be checked, so please bring your glasses with you.
- Drops to dilate your pupil will be put into one or both eyes, which will blur your vision for several hours.
- You will not be able to drive home after the drops, so please bring a companion or make suitable transport arrangements
- The procedure is performed with the laser machine connected to a normal slitlamp (microscope).
- A contact lens is placed on the eye to focus the laser beam and keep the eye open.
- The procedure lasts approximately 5-10 minutes, during which time you will hear beeping noises and experience bright lights.
- There is minimal discomfort, if any.
What happens after the YAG laser and when can I drive again?
- Your vision will be blurred after the treatment, but should improve over the following few hours.
- If you experience a sudden shower of floaters, flashes of light in the eye, or the feeling of a curtain coming over your vision, you should contact the Community Eyecare on the number provided as this may indicate a retinal detachment
- You should also contact the eye unit if you experience severe pain or loss of vision after the laser treatment.
- Certain patients will require follow-up appointments in the outpatient clinic. Before you leave, the laser operator will advise you whether another appointment is needed.
- You may resume driving the following day, however, Community Eyecare provides a free home-to-hospital transport service for patients in need who pass specific criteria - if you're struggling to find transport either to the hospital or back home, please speak to a member of staff on our Referral Booking Management Team to see if you qualify for our home-to-hospital transport service on 0330 100 4730.
- You may visit the optician a week after the treatment to check if your glasses need changing.