YAG Laser Capsulotomy

Laser for Capsular Opacification after Cataract Surgery

When a cataract is removed, its outer skin is left behind to support the intraocular lens implant. This"skin" is actually a clear membrane much like Saran wrap. At the time of surgery, it is crystal clear, but often some haziness develops as the months go by. If the haziness is marked, the membrane starts to look more like wax paper than Saran wrap. The vision gets cloudy again, almost as if the cataract had grown back.

In 1982, a new type of laser was specifically developed to make an opening in this membrane so that clear vision could be restored without additional conventional surgery. This laser procedure is truly painless. It is performed here in the office surgery center. From your point of view, it is much like having your picture taken.

Once the bright lights wear off after just a few minutes, you should appreciate significant improvement in your vision. You can drive yourself home and resume normal, non-strenuous activities immediately. Strenuous exercise must be curtailed for three weeks as a general precaution. People often see floating specks for at least a few days. These are remnants of the membrane. With time they tend to absorb or settle out of your line of vision.

As for risks and drawbacks, there is some increased risk of retinal detachment over that of the general population, but only slightly. The chances of this are about 1 in 300. Removing the membrane at the time of the original cataract surgery results in a much greater chance of retinal detachment (about 1 in 100), which is one reason the membrane is left in place to begin with. The other reason for leaving the membrane is to support the implant, but after a few weeks the eye develops permanent scar tissue and the membrane is no longer needed for this purpose.

Once a clear opening has been made with the laser, there is usually no need for additional laser treatments, as the membrane can seldom ever grow back and cause the same problem all over again.

Medicare and all the major insurance carriers cover most of the surgical fee and the facility fee. We will bill your insurance for you, but you will still be responsible for any unpaid balance, co-payment, or deductible. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.