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YAG laser capsulotomy

Private treatment for posterior capsule opacification

Ophthalmologists performing a YAG laser capsulotomy procedure
YAG laser capsulotomy is a laser procedure that can quickly restore vision following posterior capsule opacification. It is the only available treatment for the condition. Luckily, it is quick and effective and generally painless. You might also see it referred to as a posterior capsulotomy.

The treatment's full name is Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet) laser capsulotomy. It is a very safe treatment and is very common.

Posterior capsule opacification is something that occasionally happens to people after they have cataract surgery.

Cataracts is the term for the clouding of the lens in your eye. This affects your vision, but can be corrected using cataract removal surgery. During cataract surgery, your cloudy natural lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens.

In some cases, a hazy membrane can form just behind this artificial lens implant, in the bag (also known as the lens capsule) where it was placed. This affects the light coming through to the back of the eye. This condition is known as posterior capsule opacity, or PCO. It usually occurs a few years after cataract surgery.

The symptoms of posterior capsule opacity are similar to those you will experience with cataracts. These include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Hazy or cloudy vision
  • Bright glares or halos around lights
  • Double vision
  • Reduced visual focus

PCO is not dangerous, but it does affect your sight. YAG laser capsulotomy is a fast and easy way of improving these symptoms and restoring your sight. There is no other treatment for PCO other than YAG laser capsulotomy, and the condition will not improve by itself.

During YAG laser treatment, eyedrops are used to dilate your pupil, and a local anaesthetic is used to numb the area so you will not feel anything during the treatment.

A special contact lens is put into your eye and you will be asked to sit in a chair, resting your head against a frame. The surgeon then uses a laser beam to make a small hole in the membrane that has formed behind your lens. This will allow light to pass through and enable you to see better.

YAG laser capsulotomy is a quick and easy outpatient treatment that only takes around 20 minutes to complete. You won't usually need to stay overnight, however you will need to wait at the hospital until the doctor has checked your eyes and given you the all-clear to leave.

Usually one treatment is sufficient, but occasionally a second session is needed.

Your vision will be blurry for three to four hours after YAG laser treatment, but it should return to normal quickly. You won't be able to drive for the rest of the day, so make sure you arrange transport to get home after the procedure. A friend or family member might need to help you home and get you set up with everything you need for these first few hours when your vision is affected.

You should be able to continue with most of your everyday activities almost immediately. Some itchiness and mild discomfort are normal, and can be treated at home with painkillers. You might experience floaters in your eye for around a week, along with some sensitivity to bright light.

You might be prescribed anti-inflammatory eye drops to use at home. You probably won't have to use them for longer than a week. You will be able to visit your optician around two weeks later if you need new glasses.

You should avoid rubbing your eyes, wearing eye make-up and swimming for around a fortnight, and should not resume playing contact sports for around four weeks.

It's rare to have any serious complications after a YAG laser capsulotomy. Sometimes there is an increase in eye pressure, which can be treated before you leave the hospital.

There is a very small risk of a build-up of fluid in the macula, part of the retina. This can distort your sight. There is also a very small risk of the retinal detachment. If you experience flashing lights, extreme pain or loss of vision following a YAG laser capsulotomy, you should seek medical assistance immediately.

It's also possible that the opening made by the laser will be too small or incomplete. In these cases, you will probably need a second treatment.

The cost of your procedure will depend on various factors, including which hospital you choose to have treatment at.

If you are paying for your own treatment, we offer fixed-price packages, which include the cost of your aftercare. You can spread the cost over a period of up to five years using our flexible payment options.

If you have private health insurance, YAG laser capsulotomy will often be covered by your policy. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to suit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant fits your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your specific requirements
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private cosy ensuite rooms as standard and delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about treatments for cataracts or, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in February 2023. Next review due February 2026.

  1. What Is a posterior capsulotomy?, American Academy of Ophthalmology
  2. Posterior capsule opacification, RNIB
  3. YAG laser capsulotomy following cataract surgery, NHS

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