YAG Laser Treatment After Cataract Surgery
What is a YAG Laser?
A laser is a focused beam of light of a single wavelength. The different wavelengths of light have different effects or properties. A Nd:YAG laser usually emits a light with a wavelength of 1064 nm. This wavelength of light does not produce any heat with emission (cold laser).
What is an After Cataract or Posterior Capsule Opacification?
The natural lens in the eye is surrounded by a thin capsule which is similar to cellophane. When the lens becomes cloudy (cataract) and needs to be removed, an opening is placed in the anterior center of the capsule. The cloudy lens is removed from the eye and the intraocular lens is placed inside the capsule to hold it in place. In many cases this capsule may become cloudy resulting in decreased vision. This can occur in a few weeks or take years to develop. With the newer intraocular lenses, this occurs in approximately 20 to 30 percent of cases.
Symptoms of an After Cataract or Posterior Capsule Opacification
These are essentially the same symptoms as what a cataract causes.
Halos around lights
When Should a Patient Have a Nd:YAG Laser Procedure?
Just as with cataract surgery, the time to have a YAG laser treatment is when the vision becomes blurred to the point that the vision interferes with your lifestyle or ability to work. Medicare and insurance companies require that the vision be reduced to a certain level for it to be a covered procedure.
The YAG may be performed in the eye doctor’s office or as an outpatient in a surgery center or hospital. The eye is usually dilated before the procedure. A topical anesthetic is instilled into the eye. The laser only takes one or two minutes to perform. An opening in the central posterior portion of the capsule is made without any incision on the eye. An anti-inflammatory topical eye medication is prescribed to be used after the procedure for approximately for one week.
Complications of Nd:YAG Laser Surgery
Elevation of the intraocular eye pressure is the most common complication and is usually temporary.
Swelling in the macula of the retina (cystoid macular edema)
Retinal tear and/or retinal detachment
Damage to the intraocular lens
Nd:YAG laser is a very common procedure after cataract surgery. As with any procedure, there are complications but that they are not common. YAG is a safe and effective procedure.