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YAG laser treatment

We use YAG laser as a method of treating cloudiness after cataract surgery and some cases of acute angle closure. These procedures are known as YAG laser capsulotomy (for cataracts) and YAG peripheral iridotomy (for glaucoma).

YAG laser capsulotomy

This procedure is usually carried out after cataract surgery, when people experience the common complication known as posterior capsular opacification (PCO). This happens when the clear sac (capsule) in the back of the eye where the artificial lens is implanted, goes cloudy – making it difficult to see clearly. It may appear as if the cataract is coming back, or that you’re looking through frosted glass.

YAG laser capsulotomy is a treatment for PCO that creates a hole in the centre of this cloudy capsule by using a laser. This allows light to pass through to the retina at the back of your eye, restoring clear vision.

1-2 hours
clinic time

Treatment takes
up to 10 mins

Outpatient appointment

Your treatment will be carried out by a consultant, and you’ll be in the clinic for around 1-2 hours. Before your procedure, a member of the team will measure your eyesight and apply some dilating eye drops. The consultant will run through some checks and talk you through everything you need to know.

The procedure

The treatment is completely painless and should take up to 10 minutes to carry out.

Your surgeon will ask you to sit in a chair and may put a contact lens on your eye, which will help to focus the laser beam. You will then be asked to rest your chin in front of the laser machine (slit lamp) to help keep your eye still. 

After the dilation drops have worn off you should notice that the cloudiness has eased, and your vision has improved. The extent of improvement depends on how cloudy your sight was to start with and the overall health of your eye.

After the treatment

The eye drops used for the procedure will have temporarily dilated your pupils and blurred your vision, so you won’t be able to drive immediately after your treatment, but you are free to go home. Any blurred vision should clear within a few hours.

Your surgeon may prescribe you some drops to take for a few days after your treatment. A member of the team will explain everything you need to know about how and when to use them.

Benefits and risks of YAG laser capsulotomy

The most obvious benefit of having YAG laser capsulotomy is that it will make your vision clearer.

Although complications from this treatment are uncommon, the chance of any problems occurring depends on the overall health of your eye and other factors, such as your general health. Your consultant will be able to discuss these with you in greater detail.

YAG laser peripheral iridotomy

Laser peripheral iridotomy is a procedure that treats acute angle closure, or prevents it from happening. Using a laser beam, a small hole is created in the outer part of the iris. This allows the free movement of fluid within the eye, minimising the risk of high eye pressure that could damage sight.

Without treatment, the pressure can continue to rise and can permanently affect both your central and peripheral vision.

Treatment takes
up to 15 mins

1-2 hours
clinic time

Outpatient appointment

Your treatment should take about 15 minutes, but you should expect to be in the clinic for around 1-2 hours.

Before your treatment, a member of the team will talk you through the procedure, and then ask you to sign a consent form. A few minutes before the procedure, anaesthetic eye drops will be put onto your eye to gently numb the surface of the eye.

The procedure

Your surgeon will ask you to sit in a chair and will put a contact lens on your eye, which will help to focus the laser beam. You will then be asked to rest your chin in front of the machine to help keep your eye still.

Your surgeon will then direct the laser beam into your eye. You may see a series of bright lights while the treatment is being carried out. The laser makes a clicking noise during the treatment, but this is nothing to worry about.

You may feel slight discomfort, but the treatment is generally painless and should take up to 15 minutes

After the procedure

After the treatment, the surgeon will place some more eye drops onto your eye and the pressure will be checked one hour after the treatment. You may be prescribed some medication for a few days after to prevent inflammation and a rise in pressure in the treated eye. Then you’ll be free to go home.

You may notice that your vision is temporarily disturbed, but any feeling of discomfort is unusual. You should make sure to arrange for someone to drive you home as won’t be able to drive yourself.

Benefits and risks of YAG laser peripheral iridotomy

The purpose of this treatment is to preserve your eyesight, not to improve or restore it.

Complications are uncommon, but there is a risk of a rise in pressure and inflammation in the eye after treatment. Your consultant will all this with you in detail before you agree to treatment.