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YAG Laser Capsulotomy

What is a YAG laser capsulotomy?

A YAG laser capsulotomy is a procedure in which an eye provider uses a laser to make an opening in the lens capsule after cataract surgery. The capsule is the thin, clear membrane that holds the lens in place. The opening lets light rays pass through to the back of the eye. YAG refers to the type of crystals used in the laser.

Normally, YAG laser treatment is safe and successful. In a short time your vision should improve.

When is it used?

Although a cataract cannot grow back, you may develop a cloudy film over the covering of your lens months to years after cataract surgery. The cloudy membrane makes your vision blurry. This procedure can improve your vision.

Ask your healthcare provider about your choices for treatment and the risks.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Plan for your care and a ride home after the procedure.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure, depending on what they are and when you need to take them. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

The procedure can be done in your provider’s office and takes only a few minutes. First, the provider numbs your eye with eyedrops and then puts in another kind of eyedrop to lower your eye pressure. Next, the provider may place a special lens over the surface of your eye. Then the laser is pointed at the eye and painlessly creates an opening in the capsule. The laser is so precise that it usually does not affect other parts of your eye.

What happens after the procedure?

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid
  • How to take care of yourself at home and when you can return to your normal activities
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure and any risks. In rare cases, YAG laser capsulotomy can cause high pressure in your eye or a retinal tear or detachment. Ask your healthcare provider how this risk applies to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site:
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-27
Last reviewed: 2014-10-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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