Cataract Surgery and
Lens Implantation

When will my vision be normal again?
What is a YAG laser capsulotomy?

When will my vision be normal again?

You can quickly return to many everyday activities, but your vision may be blurry. The operated eye needs time to heal. During the healing process the eye changes shape, and because of the cost of a new lens, it is best to wait at least six weeks before getting a new prescription for your glasses. Ask your doctor when you can resume driving.

If you just received an IOL, you may notice that colors are very bright or have a blue tinge. Also, if you've been in bright sunlight, everything may be reddish for a few hours. If you see these color tinges, it is because your lens is clear and no longer cloudy. Within a few months after receiving an IOL, these colors should go away.

What is a YAG Laser Capsulotomy?

The natural lens has a cellophane-like outer lining called the capsule. During cataract surgery the back membrane of the natural lens (posterior capsule) is left in place to support the artificial lens implant. The posterior capsule is normally clear, however, 3 out of 4 people who have cataract surgery will eventually develop a wrinkling or cloudiness of this membrane.

Post Capsulotomy

Intraocular lens with
frosty membrane in behind

Intraocular lens with
membrane removed

The wrinkling or cloudiness which can develop months or years later is a result of scarring (a normal healing response) and can interfere with vision in ways similar to the original cataract. If the clouding of the posterior capsule interferes with your vision, your ophthalmologist may suggest opening the capsule to restore normal sight.

YAG Laser CapsulotomyThis is done with a procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy, whereby your doctor uses a laser beam to make a tiny hole in the posterior membrane to let light pass through and restore clear vision. Although the laser procedure requires close and precise focusing by the ophthalmologist, for the patient the technique is a painless, outpatient procedure and is never part of the original cataract operation.

There is a common misconception that cataracts are removed by a laser. This stems from the fact that 3 out of 4 people who have cataract surgery eventually need YAG laser surgery to remove the cloudy membrane which is often referred to as a secondary cataract.

A YAG laser capsulotomy is a surgical procedure, however, the risks of a serious complication resulting from this procedure are about 1/100th of the risks associated with a regular cataract operation. The most serious risk is of retinal detachment which at it's onset displays itself as a black curtain coming over the eye affecting the side vision from any direction. The occurrence of retinal detachment may also be associated with the appearance of flashing lights. If you experience either of these symptoms you should contact your eye doctor immediately.

What is a Cataract        Types of Cataracts and the Symptoms         Detecting a Cataract
Cataract Treatment      How is a Cataract Removed        Phacoemulsification Technique
Intraocular Lens Implants                                Before, During, and After Cataract Surgery
When Will My Vision Return to Normal                         What is a YAG Laser Capsulotomy
Risks and Results of Cataract Surgery                                   History of Lens Implantation

For more information contact:
Dr. Murray McFadden
(BSc, MD, FRCS(C), Diplomate of the American
Board of Ophthalmology)

© Copyright 1996-2004 Murray McFadden MD, Inc.

Telephone: (604) 530-3332
Fax: (604) 535-6258
SnailMail: 20434 64th Avenue, Unit #201,
Langley, BC Canada V2Y 1N4

This page last updated on December 30, 2003.
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