During cataract surgery, Dr. Shettle removes the opacified cloudy part of the lens called the nucleus and replaces it with an artificial intra-ocular lens implant called an IOL to help improve your vision. He intentionally leaves the outer posterior capsule or “wrapper” part of the lens in place to help hold the IOL in position. As the eye heals, small “healing type” cells called epithelial cells may form on the posterior capsule, causing this very thin capsule or membrane to wrinkle and become opacified. This may occur weeks, months or years after your cataract removal and occurs in about 25% of patients. If this happens after your surgery, it is known as a secondary cataract. This clouding of the membrane is the most common side effect after cataract surgery and can cause blurred vision again, but a solution is available to treat this with something called a YAG laser.
Candidates for YAG Posterior Capsulotomy
A secondary cataract affects one out of four patients within 5 years after cataract surgery. Patients who develop a second cataract after a cataract procedure may be candidates for the YAG surgery, but there is no necessity for a YAG laser capsulotomy unless visual difficulties are seriously impacting the patient's quality of life. Patients may be candidates for the procedure if they:
- Experience double vision
- Are aware of a marked difference between vision of the two eyes
- Experience visual impairment which interferes with routine activities such as driving
- Experience visual difficulties at the workplace
Procedure of YAG Laser Capsulotomy
If you develop a secondary cataract after your cataract surgery and if your vision is impairing your activities of daily living enough, then you may want to consider having a Yag laser capsulotomy performed by Dr. Shettle to remove the clouded membrane and improve your vision. A very small opening in the posterior capsule can be made to allow light to pass onto your retina more clearly. The procedure is painless and is usually performed in the office or on an outpatient basis and usually takes less than 5 minutes to perform following dilation of your pupils. Most patients notice an improvement in their vision within 24 hours if they do not have other ocular pathology. It is important to weigh the possible risks and benefits, similar to that of the original cataract surgery, before deciding upon treatment. A follow up exam is required to make sure your eye remains healthy without any ocular side effects. You are able to resume you normal activities the same day.