What is posterior capsular opacification?

Posterior capsular opacification (PCO) is a common problem that can occur in the months to years after cataract surgery. In PCO a cloudy membrane forms on the capsule behind the intraocular lens (IOL) implant, leading to blurred vision and glare. PCO is treated and cured with a procedure called laser capsulotomy.

Posterior capsular opacification: cells proliferate along the back of the implant and create an opaque or cloudy membrane

What causes posterior capsular opacification?

During cataract surgery, the surgeon removes the cataract (a clouding of the natural lens) but leaves the support system, the capsule, in place. The IOL implant is then inserted inside the capsule, which keeps the IOL supported and centered. Tiny cells can proliferate along the capsule behind the IOL implant leading to PCO.

What is laser capsulotomy?

In laser capsulotomy, your ophthalmologists will use a specialised laser, Neodymium Yag, to open up the clouded capsule behind the IOL implant and restore your vision. This is a quick, safe, non-invasive and effective procedure.

In laser capsulotomy a Neodymium Yag laser opens up the clouded capsule behind the IOL implant

What is the laser capsulotomy procedure?

Laser capsulotomy is performed by an ophthalmologist in an office or outpatient setting without any sedation. You will be given drops to dilate the pupil that can often cause a temporary blurring of vision. Anesthetic drops are used to make the eye comfortable and a specialized contact lens is placed on the eye to focus the laser. laser capsulotomy is painless and takes a few minutes to complete.

Retroillumination of posterior capsular opacification before and after laser capsulotomy

Risks and side effects of laser capsulotomy

Laser capsulotomy is a commonly performed procedure and complications are uncommon but may include:

  • Transient blurriness and light sensitivity
  • Floaters right after the procedure that settle
  • Mild glare or halos around lights
  • Increase in eye pressure (rare)
  • Inflammation (rare)
  • Posterior vitreous detachment (rare)
  • Retinal tear and detachment (extremely rare)
  • IOL dislocation (extremely rare)

What can I expect after the laser capsulotomy procedure?

You can return to normal activities after laser capsulotomy. Your vision will improve within 24-48 hours of the procedure and you may have to take some anti-inflammatory drops for a few days.

Cataract surgery wait times

Wait times for cataract surgery are updated quarterly, with wait 1 representing how long it takes in days to get in to see the surgeon in the office, and wait 2, how long it takes after that to get in for surgery.
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