YAG Laser

Posterior Capsular Opacification

During cataract surgery, Dr. Massoumi removes the natural lens of the eye but leaves a bag where the lens is held, called the capsule. The implant lens or intraocular lens (IOL) is then placed securely into the capsule. In about 1/5 of cataract surgery patients, cloudiness develops on the back surface of the capsule. This cloudiness of the capsule is called posterior capsular opacification, or PCO.

Cause And Symptoms

PCO is caused by a movement of epithelial cells onto the back surface of the capsular bag. This can happen months to years after cataract surgery. When this occurs the patient will experience symptoms similar to those cause by cataracts, including:

  • Cloudy/blurred vision
  • Increased glare
  • Decreased night vision


PCO is treated by a procedure call a YAG laser capsulotomy. In this painless procedure, a YAG laser is used to “clean” the bag surface of the capsular bag. Before the laser procedure the patient’s eye is dilated and the doctor will assess the severity of PCO. A pressure eye drop is then placed into the operative eye to reduce the risk of increased eye pressure after the procedure. The YAG laser capsulotomy takes just a few minutes. Another eye pressure drops is placed in the eye after the laser and pressure is checked again to ensure that the eye pressure has not become elevated. The patient is prescribed an anti-inflammatory eye drop to use for a week or less, and is generally followed up in 1 week and 1 month. The patient generally notices improved clarity and brightness of vision within 24 hours, after the dilated pupil has returned to normal. The procedure is extremely safe. A common side effect is increased floaters after the laser. Patients that experience this will typically see resolution within one month. Once the PCO is removed, it will not return.

Oklahoma Eye Institute uses the Zeiss Yag Laser, the industry standard for this laser procedure.

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