What is YAG capsulotomy

People develop a cataract when the natural lens in the eye becomes cloudy. With cataract surgery an eye surgeon removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial one.

Also known as YAG laser treatment, this procedure corrects Posterior capsule opacification (PCO) which sometimes occurs following cataract surgery.

Patients who develop PCO experience a thickening of the back of the lens capsule. This occurs due to migration, proliferation, and differentiation of lens epithelial cells (LECS).


How do you know if you need YAG surgery?

PCO is the most common postoperative complication that can occur within months to years after cataract surgery.  Patients who develop PCO may believe their surgery was unsuccessful or that the cataract has returned. However, PCO is a different condition altogether and is relatively quick and easy to treat.

Posterior Capsule Opacification Symptoms

Patients who develop posterior capsule opacification will notice the following symptoms:


  • tick Blurred or cloudy vision in one or both eyes
  • tick Decreased vision
  • tick Light sensitivity
  • tick Difficulty with reading
  • tick Impaired contrast
  • tick Glare or halos around lights, with bright lighting causing discomfort

How YAG Capsulotomy treatment works

YAG capsulotomy uses a sophisticated laser to remove the thickening. This facilitates light to pass through to the back of the eye to help you see clearly.

YAG laser treatment lasts only a few minutes and involves no surgical cuts.

Our YAG Results

Optegra typically perform YAG laser capsulotomy on over 6,000 eyes each year. In the last year 100% of patients reported zero operative complications and 99% reported zero post-operative complications.

yag laser consultation

What happens during the YAG consultation?

During the consultation process one of our expert surgeons will assess your eyes thoroughly and inform you if you are suitable for YAG laser treatment.

You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have to provide you with the information required to proceed with YAG treatment or not.


yag laser eye surgeon

How is YAG laser capsulotomy performed?

Before your YAG laser treatment begins, we will check your vision and intraocular pressure. Eye drops are then applied to dilate the pupils and numb the eyes.

After the eye drops have had time to take effect, your head is placed comfortably for the YAG laser to begin work. The laser will remove a small area from the back of the clouded lens capsule.

Your surgeon will use the YAG laser to make a small opening in the middle of the capsule. These holes allow light to pass through the artificial lens to the back of the eye. The actual treatment is quick and painless, typically lasting for about 5 minutes.

After the treatment is finished, your eyes may feel a little dazzled from the laser. Your vision will gradually return over a period of 5 to 10 minutes. Expect your vision to remain blurry for a few hours following treatment, from the dilating drops.

treatment rooms

How long does it take to recover from YAG laser treatment?

With YAG laser treatment the recovery time is almost immediate. While it is advised to wait till the following day to resume normal activities, the YAG laser procedure is painless with your normal vision returning quickly. Most patients notice significant vision improvements within one day of the procedure.

YAG laser eye treatment FAQs

Usually, a YAG laser capsulotomy will only be required once. In case the cloudy membrane does not break on the first attempt, a second may be required. However, this is rare.

Most patients are fine to return to work the day following treatment.

Typically, it is fine to drive the day after your YAG laser treatment. It is advised not to drive on the day of your YAG laser treatment, because dilating drops will be applied which will blur your vision for a little while.

You may be required to apply drops for a few days after treatment to soothe any inflammation.

Yes, generally it is possible to have both eyes treated on the same day.

No, recovery is fast, and patients can go home shortly after the YAG treatment is complete.

As eye drops are applied your vision may be blurry for several hours after treatment. It’s therefore useful to bring a friend or family member along to your appointment, though not mandatory.

Stronger glasses may help partially however if the thickening is extreme this is unlikely to be of much use. In this event YAG laser capsulotomy is the only solution for vision restoration.

Typically, a thickened capsule will gradually worsen, having a negative impact on your vision over time.

By Author: Amir Hamid

Mr. Amir Hamid is our Medical Director for Vision Correction and an expert refractive surgeon, based in London.