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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Nd:YAG Laser Posterior Capsulotomy for Cataracts
The most common complication of adults having standard
extracapsular surgery or phacoemulsification for cataracts is clouding of the
part of the lens covering (capsule) that remains after surgery, called
posterior capsule opacification. If the cloudiness affects your vision, you may
choose to have a laser surgery called Nd:YAG posterior capsulotomy to correct
A laser (Nd:YAG laser) is used to cut a hole in the
clouded back lining of the lens capsule to allow light to pass through the
membrane to the retina at the back of the eye.
Nd:YAG laser posterior capsulotomy is
an outpatient procedure. It does not require anesthesia, and it is painless.
The person may wait in the outpatient surgery area or the doctor's office for 1
to 2 hours after the procedure so that he or she can have the pressure in the
eye (intraocular pressure) checked. Intraocular pressure (IOP) is the pressure
caused by the fluid inside the eye that helps keep the shape of the
After cataract surgery, some people notice cloudiness (sometimes called aftercataract) after several months or years. In some people, it can
become very dense and cause as much or more vision loss as the original
The decision to have this procedure is based on the
same criteria as the decision to have the original cataract surgery:
The procedure is not needed unless vision loss caused by
clouding of the lens capsule is seriously affecting the person's vision and
Nd:YAG laser posterior capsulotomy
reduces glare and improves vision. It lets light pass through cloudy
regions of the lens capsule that may develop after cataract surgery.
The most common complication of Nd:YAG laser
posterior capsulotomy is short-term increased pressure inside the eye.
Other risks include:
It is common to have a new floater in the eye after this surgery.
Nd:YAG laser posterior capsulotomy
is not used to prevent clouding of the back lining of the lens capsule
(posterior capsule opacification). There is no way to know who will get
clouding in the back of the eye after cataract surgery. Certain lenses used in
the surgery to remove the cataract may lower this risk and the need for laser
As with cataract surgery, it is important to weigh
the risks and possible benefits of laser capsulotomy before deciding to have
the surgery. About 1 out of 50 people who have laser capsulotomy after cataract
surgery develop retinal detachment, which can cause serious vision
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Ranta P, et al. (2004). Retinal breaks and detachment
after neodymium:YAG laser posterior capsulotomy: Five-year incidence in a
prospective cohort. Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, 30(1): 58–66.
August 24, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Carol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
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