- Will I Experience Floaters After My YAG Laser Capsulotomy?
- Do I have another cataract?
- What is a YAG Laser Capsulotomy?
- What happens after a YAG Laser Capsulotomy?
- What are floaters?
- Why do I see more floaters after my YAG Laser Capsulotomy?
- What if I don’t have a YAG laser capsulotomy?
- Live your life again after a YAG laser capsulotomy
- Certain Drugs May Cause Cataract Surgery Complications
- Common Cataract Surgery Complications
- Treating Posterior Capsule Opacity
- YAG Laser Capsulotomy Risks
- Dislocated Intraocular Lenses
- Cataract Surgery Side Effects
- Vision After Cataract Surgery
- Posterior capsule opacification – laser treatment following cataract surgery
- What causes vision to become cloudy again after cataract surgery?
- Why do some people get PCO?
- What happens when I go for laser treatment?
- What are the risks of laser treatment?
- What will my sight be after treatment?
- Can PCO come back?
- Help to see things better
- What is YAG Laser Capsulotomy Recovery ?
- Who Needs a YAG Laser Procedure?
- What to Expect During YAG Laser Procedure
- YAG Laser Capsulotomy Recovery Expectations
- Contact New Vision Eye Center in Vero Beach
- Are You Seeing Blurry Even Though You Had Cataract Surgery?
Will I Experience Floaters After My YAG Laser Capsulotomy?
After cataract surgery, many patients can experience cloudy or hazy vision. This common condition can occur months or even years after their initial cataract surgery and is called a posterior capsule opacification (PCO).
PCO can be thought of as a scarring process that occurs in the capsule that contained the eye’s natural lens. The treatment for PCO is quite simple and is done with a YAG Laser Capsulotomy, a painless laser procedure that takes only a few minutes.
There is no downtime after a YAG Laser Capsulotomy, but many patients experience floaters in their vision for a few weeks. These floaters may be small or large and are often described as a “bug” or “amoeba” in the patient’s visual field. They can be dark or transparent in color.
You will have a follow up with your doctor within two to three weeks of your YAG Laser Capsulotomy to ensure that your eye is healing well.
People sometimes wonder if a YAG laser capsulotomy can increase the impact of flashes and floaters on vision. Keep reading to learn more about YAG Laser Capsulotomy and floaters!
Do I have another cataract?
When hazy vision occurs after cataract surgery, it’s natural to think you may still have a cataract. However, that’s not exactly the answer.
If you’ve had cataract surgery, you’ll know that your natural lens was removed, and with it the cataract that caused clouded, hazy vision. In the place of the natural lens of the eye, an intraocular lens (IOL) was instead inserted.
Your new IOL is placed inside of what is called the ‘lens membrane’, often referred to as a bag or capsule. The capsule is needed to keep the IOL in place after cataract removal.
For some patients, the capsule develops excess epithelial cells from the eye. When the excess cells migrate to the capsule, you experience hazy vision.
These symptoms are often comparable to cataract symptoms, which is why it is sometimes referred to as a ‘secondary cataract’. However, cataracts will never recur following cataract surgery. Instead, your hazy vision is ly posterior capsule opacification.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CATARACT SURGERY
What is a YAG Laser Capsulotomy?
If you have posterior capsule opacification, a YAG Laser Capsulotomy is the only way to treat the condition. A YAG laser capsulotomy is a short outpatient procedure available at Diagnostic Eye Center.
Once you arrive, your eyes get dilated. Un cataract surgery, there is no anesthesia needed during a YAG Laser Capsulotomy!
After dilation, your surgeon creates a small opening in the capsule using the YAG laser, which allows light to travel to the back of the eye and improves quality of vision.
One of the best things about a YAG laser capsulotomy is that the procedure is effective after just one quick treatment. Because a small opening has been permanently created in the capsule of the eye, you cannot get another posterior capsule opacification. Even better: you can go back to your everyday activities immediately!
What happens after a YAG Laser Capsulotomy?
Un cataract surgery, there is little recovery downtime after the procedure. Your doctor will ly prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops to take for about a week following your YAG capsulotomy. These drops help speed up healing and reduce any inflammation or discomfort.
Following the procedure, you will be able to participate in most of your normal daily activities. Your eye doctor at Diagnostic Eye Center will advise you if there are any activities that should be avoided during the initial time period following your procedure.
Within a day or two after YAG laser capsulotomy, your vision will begin to improve. If after a few days your eyesight hasn’t gotten any better, or worsens, let your eye doctor know! This could be a sign of a complication.
Although rare, it is possible that the opening made during a YAG laser capsulotomy may not be big enough. If this is the case, a follow-up visit may be required. They can easily make the first opening bigger, letting you achieve improved vision.
What are floaters?
A common concern about getting a YAG laser capsulotomy is the development of floaters. But what are floaters in the first place?
Floaters are small specks or lines that can develop in your vision. They are small clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous. The vitreous is a gel- substance that fills the interior of the eye.
When you see floaters and flashes, they are shadows of the cells being cast on the retina. Floaters are not harmful, and can be disregarded unless they are severely interfering with vision.
With floaters, you may also notice flashes. Flashes are floaters, except they look flashing lights or lightning. Flashes happen if your vitreous has rubbed or pulled on the retina.
As we get older, it’s normal to develop more flashes and floaters. This is because the vitreous may thicken or even shrink with age. Flashes and floaters often become more noticeable while looking at a blue sky or a plain white wall.
Why do I see more floaters after my YAG Laser Capsulotomy?
Floaters aren’t dangerous, but seeing an increase in them can be annoying. After YAG laser capsulotomy, it is not uncommon to experience more floaters than normal.
During a YAG laser capsulotomy, the clouded capsule of the eye is broken up to allow light to pass through. Some of the increased floaters are due to small pieces of the capsule floating around in your eye.
For most patients, seeing more floaters after their YAG laser capsulotomy is temporary. They should decrease after a few weeks while you continue recovering from the procedure.
What if I don’t have a YAG laser capsulotomy?
Although a YAG laser capsulotomy is an elective procedure, it is highly recommended. With a posterior capsule opacification, the haziness you see will only get worse without treatment.
Remember what your sight was before undergoing cataract surgery? That’s what your vision may be if you opt not to have a YAG laser capsulotomy. Left untreated, the capsule will continue thickening. A YAG laser capsulotomy is the only way to treat posterior capsule opacification.
Live your life again after a YAG laser capsulotomy
YAG laser capsulotomy is a quick (5-10 minute) outpatient procedure that results in an almost immediate improvement of vision.
Any hazy or blurry vision should begin dissipating immediately following your procedure. After your recovery, you’ll finally have the clear vision you’ve been waiting for!
Say goodbye to double vision, yellow tinted vision, and halos. Any glare from headlights while driving at night should improve as well. The best thing about getting a YAG laser capsulotomy is living your life again. This includes participating in activities :
- reading a novel
- driving at night or during the day
- doing laundry
Losing your vision to cataracts means losing a vital part of your identity. With a YAG laser capsulotomy, you can be you again!
Enjoy taking photographs of nature or go for walks with your friends on sunny days. Go to your favorite museum and walk around the exhibits with clear, beautiful vision. You’ve earned it!
Wondering if you may need a YAG laser capsulotomy? Contact Diagnostic Eye Center in Houston, Texas today! If you’re tired of hazy vision after cataract surgery, a YAG laser capsulotomy may be right for you!
Certain Drugs May Cause Cataract Surgery Complications
HomeVision SurgeryCataract Surgery | En Español
Cataract surgery complications are few, and cataract surgery is among the most common and most successful surgical procedures performed today.
According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery each year, with an overall success rate of 98 percent or higher.*
Also, a study of more than 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries who underwent cataract surgery between 1994 and 2006 found that 99.5 percent of patients had no severe postoperative complications and the risk of severe complications has decreased with advances in surgical tools and techniques.**
Potential cataract surgery complications include:
- Posterior capsule opacity (PCO)
- Intraocular lens dislocation
- Eye inflammation
- Light sensitivity
- Photopsia (perceived flashes of light)
- Macular edema (swelling of the central retina)
- Ptosis (droopy eyelid)
- Ocular hypertension (elevated eye pressure)
When cataract surgery complications do occur, most are minor and can be successfully treated medically or with additional surgery.
Common Cataract Surgery Complications
One of the most common cataract surgery complications is a posterior capsule opacity (also called posterior capsule opacification or PCO).
Although some people call PCO a “secondary cataract,” it really is not a cataract. Once a cataract is removed, it does not come back.
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.
In some cases, if the condition progresses significantly, your vision may be worse than it was before cataract surgery.
Treating Posterior Capsule Opacity
Fortunately, a YAG laser can treat posterior capsule opacity safely, effectively and painlessly. This procedure, known as YAG laser capsulotomy, often can be performed in your doctor's office.
YAG laser capsulotomy involves just a few simple steps:
- Usually the eye is dilated before the procedure, with dilating eye drops.
- A laser removes the hazy posterior capsule from your line of sight without making an incision or “touching” the eye.
- Many ophthalmologists recommend anti-inflammatory eye drops following the procedure.
A laser capsulotomy is a relatively simple, in-office procedure that takes only a few minutes. A laser beam is directed at the cloudy capsule behind the intraocular lens (IOL) and the energy from the laser vaporizes the tissue, restoring clear vision.
The procedure takes only a few minutes and is entirely painless; nor does discomfort occur post-operatively.
You must remain still during the procedure, however. Very uncooperative patients, such as children and mentally disabled people, may require sedation.
Following a YAG laser capsulotomy, you may resume normal activities immediately. You may experience some floaters afterward. These will ly 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. So only one laser treatment is required to permanently eliminate vision loss caused by posterior capsule opacification after cataract surgery.
YAG Laser Capsulotomy Risks
Although a YAG laser capsulotomy poses slight additional risk, overall the procedure is extremely safe. The most important risk is that the retina can become detached from the inner back of the eye.
Statistics suggest that the lifetime risk of a detached retina as a cataract surgery complication in the United States is about 1 percent. That number rises to about 2 percent after YAG laser capsulotomy. It is important to be aware of this cataract surgery risk.
Dislocated Intraocular Lenses
Another example of cataract surgery complications is malpositioned or dislocated intraocular lenses. You may see the edge of the lens implant, or you may even develop double vision. If the intraocular lens becomes too badly dislocated, your visual acuity could decrease substantially.
How can an IOL become malpositioned or dislocated?
In most cataract surgeries, the intraocular lens is placed inside the “capsular bag,” which contains the cloudy natural lens or cataract of the eye.
Ophthalmologists make every attempt to maintain the integrity of the capsular bag so that the intraocular lens can be positioned correctly within it. But the capsular bag is extremely thin — approximately the thickness of a single red blood cell — and can sometimes rupture or break.
Also, the capsular bag itself may dislocate due to weakness or breakage of the fibers (zonules) that hold it in place, resulting in a condition known as zonular dialysis. This condition places you at risk of malpositioning or dislocation of the lens implant.
Even without underlying complications, intraocular lenses can still dislocate — especially if one of the springy “arms” holding the lens in place is positioned improperly inside the capsular bag or becomes malpositioned later on.
When an intraocular lens implant is malpositioned or dislocated, your cataract surgeon can probably reposition it in a second procedure. In some cases, the lens implant must be sewn in place, or another type of lens must be implanted.
If IOL dislocation occurs following a recent cataract surgery, repositioning the lens should be done soon.
This is because lens implants begin to “scar” into place approximately three months after original implantation and can become much more difficult to remove.
If you do experience a malpositioned or dislocated intraocular implant, your chances of a good outcome following a second procedure are very good if you and your surgeon take action promptly.
Also, a recent Mayo Clinic study of more than 14,000 cataract surgeries performed between January 1980 and May 2009 found that the risk of late IOL dislocation after cataract surgery was very low: At 10 years after surgery, the cumulative risk was 0.1 percent; at 20 years, it was 0.7 percent; and at 25 years, it was 1.7 percent.
Cataract Surgery Side Effects
Other potential cataract surgery complications range from minor eye inflammation to devastating vision loss. The risk of severe vision loss is very rare and may occur as a result of infection or bleeding inside the eye.
Some cataract surgery complications occur quite a while later. For example, a detached retina can occur months or years after a perfectly successful cataract procedure.
Most patients with retinal detachment have a good outcome if they see their ophthalmologist when symptoms first begin and treatment is done immediately. However, a small percentage will have substantially and permanently reduced vision.
Be sure to report floaters, flashes of light and a curtain- vision loss to your ophthalmologist immediately, as these symptoms may indicate a retinal detachment has occurred.
Other potential cataract surgery complications are minor and may include:
Minor complications usually clear up with medications and more healing time.
Vision After Cataract Surgery
According to ASCRS, studies show that 95 percent of patients who choose a standard IOL for cataract surgery have their vision fully restored to its pre-cataract state, and if you choose a premium IOL your vision may be even better than it was before.*
If you have any problem with sensitivity to sunlight after cataract surgery, eyeglasses with photochromic lenses, which darken automatically to UV rays, often can provide relief. Also, for residual refractive error and presbyopia after surgery, progressive lenses with anti-reflective coating often can sharpen your vision for activities night driving and reading.
People whose vision fails to improve after cataract surgery often have underlying eye disorders, such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions. Some of these individuals may benefit from other procedures or from low vision aids.
Notes and References
Risk of late intraocular lens dislocation after cataract surgery, 1980-2009: a population-based study. American Journal of Ophthalmology. October 2011.
*Cataract surgery. Eye Surgery Education Council website. Accessed June 2011.
** Severe adverse events after cataract surgery among Medicare beneficiaries. Ophthalmology. Published online ahead of print in June 2011.
Retinal breaks and detachment after neodymium: YAG laser posterior capsulotomy: Five-year incidence in a prospective cohort. Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. 2004.
Biostatistical analysis of pseudophakic and aphakic retinal detachments. Seminars in Ophthalmology. 2002.
A systematic overview of the incidence of posterior capsule opacification. Ophthalmology. July 1998.
Page updated August 2017
Posterior capsule opacification – laser treatment following cataract surgery
Posterior capsule opacification (PCO) is a complication that can occur some time after cataract surgery.
The vision problems caused by PCO can make it seem as though your cataract has returned, but it can be easily treated with a quick, painless, outpatient laser procedure to make vision clear again. Once you have had the laser treatment, PCO doesn’t normally cause any long-term problems with your sight.
Download or save this information in Word
– What causes vision to become cloudy again after cataract surgery?
– Why do some people get PCO?
– What happens when I go for laser treatment?
– What are the risks of laser treatment?
– What will my sight be after treatment?
– Can PCO come back?
– Help to see things better
What causes vision to become cloudy again after cataract surgery?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye and normally occurs as part of the ageing process, although there are other reasons why a cataract can develop earlier in life.
During cataract surgery the natural lens of your eye, which has become cloudy, is replaced by a clear artificial lens also known as an intraocular lens or IOL. This new artificial lens is placed inside your lens capsule, the membrane that originally held your natural lens. Your lens capsule is clear and remains clear following your cataract surgery.
PCO occurs because cells remaining after cataract surgery grow over the back (posterior) of the capsule causing it to thicken and become slightly opaque (cloudy). This means that light is less able to travel through to the retina at the back of your eye. Sight can become blurred and cloudy, or you may have problems with bright lights and glare.
The effects of PCO on your sight are very similar to the changes you may have had when your cataract first started to cause you problems. If you have had cataract surgery in both eyes, PCO can affect both eyes, but each eye may be affected at different times.
Why do some people get PCO?
Although PCO is quite common, there are some reasons why you may be more ly to develop it. The younger you are when you have cataract surgery, the more ly it is that this thickening will occur.
PCO is also more common in certain situations, such as where inflammation (swelling) is present in your eye or if someone has the genetic eye condition retinitis pigmentosa.
However, it’s not unusual to develop PCO even if you don’t have these conditions.
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What happens when I go for laser treatment?
PCO is treated by a very low risk, quick, painless laser treatment. It is carried out in the outpatient clinic. If you have PCO in both eyes, then it is possible to have treatment for both on the same day.
At the appointment you will be given some eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil. These can make your vision blurrier.
Sometimes, but not always, the ophthalmologist (hospital eye doctor) may use a contact lens to help to keep your eye in the right position.
If this is needed, then you will also be given a drop to anaesthetise (numb) the front of your eye so that you do not feel any discomfort.
Once your pupil is dilated, you will be asked to sit and place your head on the headrest of the laser machine. This will help to keep your head and eye still while the ophthalmologist uses the laser to remove part of the capsule. There may also be a nurse present while the treatment takes place.
The ophthalmologist focuses the laser exactly onto the back of the lens capsule in order to cut away a small circle-shaped area. This leaves some of the capsule to keep your artificial lens in place ( a cuff around the lens), but removes enough in the middle to allow the light to pass directly through to the retina.
The laser uses a wavelength of light that cannot be seen, but you may notice a red light, which helps the ophthalmologist focus the laser beam.
Each laser pulse is over in a fraction of a second and you should not feel any pain or discomfort. You may notice a few flashing lights or hear some faint clicks coming from the machine as the laser works.
The procedure does not take very long; normally it will take about 5-10 minutes.
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What are the risks of laser treatment?
The laser treatment is considered very safe. All procedures carry some aspect of risk, but serious side effects from laser treatment for PCO are very rare.
Laser treatment for PCO is carried out using a very low energy laser called “Nd: YAG”, sometimes referred to as just “YAG”. The Nd: YAG laser can delicately cut the lens capsule without any risk of damage to other parts of your eye. Because the laser can travel through the front of your eye (the cornea) without cutting it, there is no risk of infection from this treatment.
Sometimes, if a contact lens was used to steady your eye during the treatment, your eye may be a little sore afterwards, but this should soon wear off.
For some people, laser treatment for PCO can cause eye pressure to rise. This can be an issue if you already have a pre-existing eye condition such as glaucoma, as your eye pressure may already be higher than normal.
If your ophthalmologist is concerned about this, they will check your eye pressure soon after the laser treatment. If your eye pressure has increased, you will be given some eye drops or a tablet to bring it back down.
Rarely, laser can cause a retinal detachment which can happen days, weeks or months after the treatment. This is more ly to happen if you are very short sighted. If it does occur, retinal detachment can be treated with surgery to re-attach the retina.
It is important to stress that these risks are extremely rare complications of the laser treatment. The vast majority of people get an excellent and permanent improvement in their vision following laser without experiencing any issues.
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What will my sight be after treatment?
It may take a few days for your sight to become clear again, and you may notice “floaters” after your laser treatment. Floaters are harmless clumps of cells which move around inside the vitreous (a jelly- substance which fills the inside of the eye). You may see floaters as dots, circles, lines, clouds or cobwebs. Over time these will settle down and become less noticeable.
Because the laser treatment does not require any incisions or stitches, you are normally able to return to your daily activities straight away. However, immediately after treatment, your pupils will still be dilated so your vision may be blurred for a few hours afterwards. You will need to avoid driving until this blurriness has gone.
You should not drive yourself home after the treatment as it can take some time for the drops that dilate your pupils to wear off, and your vision may still be blurry following the laser treatment.
You should arrange to get home by public transport or arrange for someone else to drive you home following your treatment.
It’s important to have your eyes checked immediately if you experience the following symptoms, as these may be a sign of a retinal detachment:
- a new batch of floaters
- flashing lights
- a dark curtain moving up, down or across your vision.
Retinal detachment can be treated with surgery to re-attach the retina, but this needs to be done quickly, which is why it’s important to have your eyes checked immediately if you notice these symptoms.
After laser treatment for PCO, your sight should go back to the way it was following your original cataract surgery, provided no other problems have developed in your eye. You will still have to use any glasses as you used before the PCO developed, but your vision should be clear again with these, unless you have any other eye conditions affecting your sight.
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Can PCO come back?
You will generally only need to have laser treatment for PCO once. Very rarely, certain cells may develop in the area of the posterior capsule, or the opening in the capsule made by the first laser treatment can shrink, causing PCO to come back. If this does happen it is possible to safely have further laser treatment if needed.
Help to see things better
PCO can cause your vision to become blurry and you may have glare or difficulties in bright light before you have the laser treatment. You may also find reading difficult.
There are a lot of things you can do to make the most of your vision if you are having any difficulties while you wait for treatment.
This may mean making things bigger, using brighter lighting, or using colour to make things easier to see.
Find out more about how to make the most of your sight by downloading our guide:
However, once you’ve had laser treatment for PCO, your vision should return to how it was before the PCO developed.
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What is YAG Laser Capsulotomy Recovery ?
Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States today, particularly as people age.
The procedure helps to permanently improve vision by replacing the natural lens of the eye with an artificial lens that requires no upkeep or care as glasses do.
A YAG laser procedure is a common necessity for patients that have undergone cataract surgery in order to tweak results for an optimal outcome.
Who Needs a YAG Laser Procedure?
Some people who have cataract surgery develop a condition called PCO, short for Posterior Capsule Opacity. They may refer to this as a secondary cataract although this is technically not correct.
In addition to mildly blurry or double vision, these patients may develop a mild to moderate problem with glare. This can occur immediately after cataract surgery or months or years later.
Fortunately, the YAG laser procedure is a simple solution to these issues.
What to Expect During YAG Laser Procedure
YAG, which stands for yttrium aluminum garnet, is a crystal located within the laser used for the procedure. The procedure is simple and completed on an outpatient basis in just a few minutes.
The first thing your surgeon does is use the laser to create an opening in your opacified capsule. This allows light rays from the laser to move freely towards the back of the affected eye to restore clear vision.
You will receive eye drops at the beginning of the procedure to dilate your eyes. It does not involve any cutting and you feel no discomfort whatsoever.
YAG Laser Capsulotomy Recovery Expectations
Immediately after your laser procedure, your ophthalmologist will see how you are doing and then discuss expectation for YAG laser capsulotomy recovery. It is important to follow all instructions carefully to achieve the outcome that you desire. This includes using anti-inflammatory eye drops for up to several days after the procedure.
You may resume all normal activities right away after your YAG laser procedure. It is common for people who have had this procedure to see floaters in their field of vision for up to a few weeks.
This normally resolves on its own, but please contact New Vision Eye Center if it does not.
Although extremely rare, we also encourage you to call our office if you experience pain or other symptoms that you did not expect such as worsening vision.
You should notice significant vision improvement within one day of the procedure. This is a one-time procedure that you will not have to repeat. The reason for this is that the laser eliminates the centralized zone of the capsule located behind your intraocular lens that has created a cloudy posterior. That means the post-cataract surgery conditions of blurry vision, double vision, or problems with glare cannot return.
Contact New Vision Eye Center in Vero Beach
The YAG laser procedure is fast and simple. We encourage you to speak to your eye doctor about possible risk factors and whether you are in need of this procedure. New Vision Eye Center in Vero Beach, Florida, is happy to answer all your questions during a personal consultation. Please call us today at 772-257-8700 or reach out online.
Are You Seeing Blurry Even Though You Had Cataract Surgery?
Bill Oxford / Getty Images
A yag laser posterior capsulotomy is a procedure performed to treat cloudy vision that may remain after undergoing cataract eye surgery.
A cataract is a clouding or opacification of the human lens of the eye. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness among people older than 55. Most older people have some degree of lens clouding, which is a normal part of aging.
However, cataracts can occur for other reasons other than aging. An infant can be born with a congenital cataract. Also, trauma to the eye can cause a traumatic cataract. Some medications, such as prednisone, a corticosteroid, can cause cataracts.
Finally, some medical conditions such as diabetes can put one at risk of developing early cataracts.
If you wonder what it is to have a cataract, think about looking through a fogged-up, cloudy window. Cataracts make your visual field appear fuzzy or blurry.
A cataract affects the lens of the eye.
The lens is located behind the iris. It is responsible for focusing light on the retina, and for producing clear, sharp images. The lens has the ability to change shape, known as accommodation. As the eyes age, however, the lens hardens and loses its ability to accommodate.
The entire lens is contained within a lens capsule.
Sometimes after cataract surgery, the back or posterior part of the lens capsule, or lens covering, becomes cloudy or opacified. This cloudiness is usually caused by cells growing onto the back of the capsule, causing blurred vision, glare or light sensitivity.
Although not a true cataract, it is often referred to as a “secondary cataract.” This secondary cataract is quite common in patients that have had cataract surgery. The cloudiness can develop shortly after cataract surgery or many years after cataract surgery.
To treat this posterior capsule opacification, doctors use a type of laser called a Yag laser to make a hole in the back of the capsule to clear away the cloudiness so that light may pass freely to the back of the eye.
YAG laser posterior capsulotomy is an outpatient procedure that does not require anesthesia. The procedure is painless and only takes between 5 and 10 minutes. Some patients see small spots or floaters after the procedure. Most often, patients are placed on an anti-inflammatory eye drop for approximately a week.
In most cases, a YAG laser posterior capsulotomy will restore vision back to normal. However, many times the vision or lens prescription that was worn before the YAG treatment is no longer satisfactory. Most doctors will do a follow-up visit in about a week or two. At this visit, the area that was lasered will be checked.
The doctor will also perform a refraction and most ly prescribe new glasses.
Once a YAG laser procedure is performed, the haziness or cloudiness can never return. In most cases, once a YAG laser procedure is performed, vision is stable for quite some time.
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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Common Eye Disorders. Updated September 29, 2015.
National Eye Institute. Cataracts. Updated August 3, 2019.
American Academy of Ophthalmology. Cataract Surgery. Updated September 20, 2019.
American Academy of Ophthalmology. What Is a Posterior Capsulotomy? Updated January 13, 2020.