When Does Vision Recover After Yag Laser Eye Surgery

In the eye doctor’s office, many patients ask, “When does vision improve after YAG laser?” YAG laser capsulotomy is done by your cataract surgeon after cataract surgery. It is done because the patient’s eye has developed a posterior capsule opacification. This is sometimes abbreviated as a PCO and also sometimes called a secondary cataract. Let’s take a look at what factors must be considered when looking at vision improvement after YAG.

When Does Vision Improve After YAG Laser?

There are a few factors to consider after YAG laser, and when your vision will improve. For most patients, it should improve within 24 hours. For others, it could take longer. 

If there is another disease that is present, then it may complicate the clinical picture. Before having a YAG laser it is important to have good suspicion that the PCO is in fact what is decreasing the vision. 

It is natural for YAG laser surgery to cause some amount of inflammation. In most cases, this inflammation will not slow down recovery. 

Why Is Yag Laser Done After Cataract Surgery?

A YAG laser posterior capsulotomy is performed to treat a condition called posterior capsular opacification (PCO), also known as secondary cataract. PCO can occur in some individuals after cataract surgery. 

A PCO will usually form weeks to years after cataract surgery. A mild PCO may not be noticeable to you as a patient. A dense posterior capsule opacity is likely to cause blurry vision.

During cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to restore clear vision. However, a thin membrane called the posterior capsule, which holds the IOL in place, can become cloudy or wrinkled over time. This can cause visual symptoms similar to those of a cataract, such as blurry or hazy vision, glare, or difficulty with contrast sensitivity.

A YAG laser posterior capsulotomy is performed to create a small opening in the cloudy posterior capsule, allowing light to pass through and reach the retina unobstructed.

Thickness Of The Posterior Capsular Opacification

If you have a very dense PCO, then it is likely that you will have a dramatic improvement in vision after having a posterior capsulotomy. During cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens of the eye is removed. During this time some lens epithelial cells, which are responsible for lens maintenance and clarity, can get left behind. These cells can multiply and move onto the posterior capsule. The proliferation of the lens epithelial cells is what causes the opacification.

In some patients, a PCO is very thin. For these patients, there is not much energy required to break through. In some patients a PCO can be very thick. These patients usually have the most blurry vision from their posterior capsular opacification.

In the case of a very dense PCO, your eye doctor (also called an ophthalmologist) will likely need to use more laser energy for the YAG laser treatment. Because of this, there could be more inflammation during the procedure. This would be expected if the PCO is very dense. 

On average, patients should see more clearly within 24 hours. But, if there is a significant inflammation, it may take 3 or 4 days to see more clearly. This is because it will take some time (and usually some medication) for the inflammatory cells to go away.

Other Eye Conditions That Can Cause Blurry Vision After A YAG

Before having a YAG laser procedure it is important to make sure that there are no other eye problems. Your eye doctor will typically look at the back of the eye to make sure there are no other diseases that could be the cause of your blurry vision. In the case of a very dense PCO as mentioned above, it may be difficult to see the back of the eye past the artificial lens. If this is the case, then it is likely that the cloudy vision is from the PCO. If the doctor can’t see in, it is unlikely that you would have clear vision. Other eye conditions that should be evaluated are listed below.

Retinal Detachment

A retinal detachment can potentially occur after cataract surgery, although it is relatively rare. Cataract surgery involves the removal of the clouded natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). It’s worth noting that the overall risk of retinal detachment after cataract surgery is relatively low, estimated to be around 0.3% to 2%. 

If your blurry vision is being caused by a retinal detachment, then after a Yag capsulotomy, your vision will not improve because it has not solved the problem. In cases of a very dense PCO, it may be difficult to see through the lens capsule to evaluate the retina. In this case, any retinal problems will only be seen after the laser has been done.


Glaucoma is another eye condition that can cause vision loss. If the vision loss a patient is experiencing is not from a posterior capsular opacification then the vision is not likely to improve much after a Yag laser. This is why it is so important to ask your ophthalmologists specifically if a PCO is in fact the cause of your blurry vision. 

​Dry Eye

Dry eye can also cause visual problems. Lubricating the eye with artificial tears can be very helpful. If the blurry vision improves with lubrication, then it is likely that the dry was contributing to the blurry vision more so than a posterior capsular opacification. If you have dry eye after the YAG capsulotomy, then your vision will not improve until you treat the dry eye. 

Not everyone needs a YAG laser after cataract. It is important to rule out other causes of blurry vision before having a YAG laser procedure. If all other causes are ruled out then YAG laser treatment is a safe and effective treatment. 

Who Performs The YAG Laser Eye Procedure?

In almost all cases cataract surgeons perform the YAG laser surgery. Cataract surgeons are medical doctors who have gone to medical school and completed a 4 year residency training in procedural ophthalmology. Usually it is the same surgeon that did your original cataract surgery that is the one who will perform the laser. 

Yag laser capsulotomies are done frequently. It is a simple procedure, but only in the hands of a trained medical doctor. 

Who Is A Good Candidate For YAG laser?

It is also important to be a good candidate for YAG eye surgery. This means that the PCO is causing blurry vision that is impacting your life and individual needs.  If you are having blurry vision and the PCO is not very dense, then your ophthalmologist will investigate if something else is going on. While the YAG procedure is generally very safe, there is always risk of complications with anything invasive. Be sure to choose the right cataract surgeon for your procedure. 

Serious side effects may happen if Yag surgery is done by someone who does not have the proper training to do it and years of cataract surgery experience. After the laser a follow-up appointment will be given to you  so that the doctor can see you again to make sure you haven’t had any complications. They will also check your eyesight to see if there was an improvement. 

YAG Laser Procedure

A YAG laser procedure is typically an outpatient procedure, meaning it does not require an overnight hospital stay. It is commonly performed in an ophthalmologist’s office or an outpatient surgical center. A YAG laser capsulotomy is performed to create an opening in the cloudy capsule, allowing light to pass through and restore clear vision.

The YAG laser capsulotomy procedure is relatively quick, usually taking only a few minutes to complete. Before the procedure, eye drops may be administered to dilate the pupil, and numbing eye drops are used to ensure the patient’s comfort.

During the procedure, the ophthalmologist uses a YAG laser to create a small opening in the posterior capsule of the eye. The laser delivers precise energy pulses to vaporize the cloudy portion of the capsule without causing damage to the surrounding structures. The procedure is generally painless, although patients may experience some flashes of light or a brief sensation similar to a small pinprick.

Care After YAG Procedure

After the YAG laser capsulotomy, patients can usually resume their normal activities and normal routine immediately. Some individuals may experience mild discomfort or blurry vision for a few hours following the procedure, but this typically resolves quickly. Some patients may need anti-inflammatory eye drops after the procedure.

​Immediately after the YAG, your vision in that eye will likely be blurry. This is due to the laser that has been used. It is similar to how a patient may not be able to see temporarily after a bright camera flash. This blurry vision should improve throughout the day. 

The immediate blurry vision after a YAG can be a little disorienting. For this reason, most ophthalmologists and cataract surgeons will recommend that patients have a family member or friend accompany them to their laser appointment. This way another person is there to help you if you need and drive you home. 

When Does Vision Improve After YAG Laser: Summary

For most patients, vision improvement after the YAG laser procedure will improve within 24 hours. This type of laser eye surgery is very safe and low risk. However, it is important for cataract surgery patients to have their YAG laser done by an ophthalmologist who has experience in doing the procedure. It is typically done in the doctor’s office, and it is usually the same doctor that has done the cataract operation. Some possible risks include inflammation of the eye and a retinal tear.

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