Fixing and improving eyesight can involve a variety of different methods, especially in older adults. For some, prescription lenses are a sufficient way to fix visual issues. For others, eye surgery may be the only course of sustainable action to treat declining vision.
Cataracts commonly occur in older individuals and can be surgically treated. Cataract surgery, is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States and the success rate is extremely high. However, some patients require a simple laser procedure to correct a condition that arises for a select few following cataract surgery. Just behind the new, artificial intraocular implant a haze may develop. This may result in blurred or doubled vision, and is often associated with mild to significant glare. This condition is known as a posterior capsule opacity (PCO). Less often, it is referred to as “secondary cataract.” This term, however, is misleading as cataracts do not recur after cataract surgery.
The solution to fix this common occurrence is known as a YAG laser capsulotomy. This laser procedure is a safe and effective outpatient treatment that will improve the patient’s vision almost immediately. Reports show that after cataract surgery, some individuals report cloudiness in a portion of their line of sight. This can occur months or even years after the initial cataract surgery. While cataract surgery has high success rates, this rare complication can be easily solved. YAG laser surgery can fix any minor visual impairments that may occur as a result of a posterior capsule opacity.
YAG laser surgery is still surgery, and the choice to undergo this outpatient procedure still needs to be thought through. However, if you have had cataract surgery and are now experiencing double vision, glare issues, problems passing a vision test, or your sight limitations are negatively affecting your life, you may need to consider having YAG laser surgery.
This surgical procedure decreases common problems after cataract surgery, like double vision. It fixes the eye so that light can again move through, ultimately improving vision.
During cataract surgery, your surgeon will remove the cloudy natural lens of your eye (cataract) and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL). Much of the thin clear membrane that surrounds the natural lens (called the lens capsule) is left intact during surgery and the IOL usually is implanted within it.
When the cataract is removed, your surgeon makes every attempt to maintain the integrity of the lens capsule, and normally your vision after cataract surgery should be very clear.
However, in about 20 percent of patients, the posterior portion of the capsule becomes hazy some time during cataract surgery recovery or even months later, causing PCO. Posterior capsule opacification occurs because lens epithelial cells remaining after cataract surgery have grown on the capsule.
There is no way to predict who will develop PCO, though it is known that PCO development carries a higher rate in younger patients.
At present, the only effective treatment of PCO is a YAG Laser Capsulotomy, a minor outpatient procedure. YAG is an acronym for yttrium aluminum garnet, the crystal contained within the laser. The laser works by creating a central opening in the opacified capsule. Through the cleared opening, light rays can pass freely to the back of the eye, resulting in restored or improved vision. The laser is only performed when the PCO is affecting the patient’s vision and is needed just once in most cases. Only an ophthalmologist can perform a YAG laser.
YAG laser capsulotomy involves just a few simple steps:
The procedure only takes a few minutes and is entirely painless.
Following a YAG laser capsulotomy, you may resume normal activities immediately. You may experience some floaters afterward. These will likely resolve within a few weeks.
Most people can expect their vision to improve within a day. As with any eye procedure, however, call your eye doctor immediately if vision worsens or fails to improve.
Because the YAG laser removes the central zone of the cloudy posterior capsule behind the intraocular lens, the condition cannot return. Only one laser treatment is required to permanently eliminate vision loss caused by posterior capsule opacification after cataract surgery.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, or need to schedule an eye exam, contact our World-Class Eye Care™ office today!