Secondary membranes and the YAG laser

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:48 pm
When a cataract is removed, it’s common practice to keep intact within the eye a membrane called the posterior capsule. This membrane serves to support the lens implant that’s placed in the eye during surgery. In some people, the capsule eventually loses its clarity during the months and years after a cataract operation. In this situation, the YAG (yag) laser is used to create an opening in the center of the membrane to restore quality vision. This is a brief and painless outpatient procedure that’s performed without the need for anesthesia or a surgical incision. During surgery, the YAG laser makes a small hole in the clouded capsule behind the artificial lens, permitting light to reach the retina without distortion. This results in improved vision. After treatment, patients sometimes report seeing fragments of the lens capsule floating as shadows across their field of vision. These “floaters” become less noticeable as they’re absorbed by the eye. Doctors recommend receiving early treatment when you notice symptoms of secondary cataracts, because this procedure is most effective when performed at the time the capsule first turns cloudy and affects vision. Talk with your eye doctor if you’re a former cataract patient who is experiencing problems with your vision.

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