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YAG Laser Capsulotomy

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During cataract surgery, your doctor removes your eye’s clouded lens and replaces a synthetic version within the capsule. Sometimes, that capsule becomes cloudy after surgery. A YAG laser capsulotomy fixes this problem. 

This procedure is quick and effective, and your sight should improve in about 24 hours.

What Is YAG?

YAG stands for Yttrium Aluminum Garnet. In medical applications, a YAG laser uses this specific type of crystal to produce a concentrated beam of light. The wavelength emitted by a YAG laser is particularly effective at making precise, clean cuts in biological tissue, which makes it a perfect tool for a variety of surgical procedures, including capsulotomy after cataract surgery.

YAG Laser Capsulotomy

Key Facts About the YAG Laser Procedure

  • A YAG laser capsulotomy takes about 5 minutes, and you can go home the same day. 
  • Researchers say this procedure has a success rate of about 95 percent, meaning it almost always clears your vision. 
  • Up to 2 in 5 people who have cataract surgery develop secondary cataracts later. 
  • While there is a risk for complications because it is a surgical procedure, the overall risk is considered low. A primary risk factor is the potential for retinal detachment following the procedure. An assessment of the potential for retinal detachment five months after the operation was 0.87 percent.

How Is YAG Performed?

Before using the laser, the doctor applies eye drops to increase pupil size. A separate eye drop is given to numb the eye’s surface so you are comfortable during the surgery.

There is a machine that you sit at for the surgery. The special laser that does the work is attached to it. Before using the laser beam, the doctor will put a mirrored lens on your eye, ensuring that the laser focuses properly on the right area. Overall, it is completed in approximately 20 minutes.

You will spend a short time in recovery, so your doctor can have your eye pressure assessed before you are released to go home.

You can return to normal activities immediately following a YAG procedure. However, you may experience some vision blurriness or see floaters in your field of vision. These issues normally clear within a couple of weeks.

You’ll notice an improvement in your vision within one day of the surgery. Follow all your surgeon’s instructions regarding aftercare, including applying eye drops as prescribed.

You’ll need to see your doctor for a follow-up appointment. They will assess how your eye is healing and monitor for any issues.

Risks and Complications

While generally safe, there can be potential complications, including increased eye pressure, inflammation, floaters, or in rare cases, retinal detachment. The risk of retinal detachment is about 0.87 percent. It’s also possible for some patients to experience minor issues such as blurry vision or light sensitivity immediately after the procedure.

Post-Procedure Care

You will spend a short time in recovery, so your doctor can have your eye pressure assessed before you are released to go home. You’ll need to see your doctor for a follow-up appointment. They will assess how your eye is healing and monitor for any issues.

How Much Does YAG Cost?

A YAG laser capsulotomy costs between a few hundred dollars and almost $1,500. Insurance companies typically cover these fees, but there may be hoops to jump through. For example, you may be required to pay a part of the fee, and you may need to use a doctor within the company’s network.

YAG Laser Capsulotomy Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to recover from YAG laser?

You can return to normal activities immediately following a YAG procedure, but you may experience some vision blurriness or see floaters in your field of vision. These issues normally clear within a couple of weeks.

Can I drive home after YAG laser capsulotomy?

No. You should have someone drive you home from the procedure.

Is the procedure painful?

Since your eyes are numb for the procedure, there is no pain.

How long do floaters last after the procedure?

Some people notice floaters after the YAG procedure. They can last for a few weeks.

Can YAG laser be done twice?

A YAG procedure is typically so effective that it’s not necessary to perform it more than once.

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