Boulder Eye Surgeons
Donald J. Keller, MD & Brian E. Nichols, MD PhD

Laser for Secondary Cataracts

A laser for secondary cataracts (posterior capsulotomy) is a surgical laser procedure that may be necessary after cataract surgery.

During cataract surgery part of the front (anterior) capsule that holds the lens is removed. The clear back (posterior) capsule remains intact. As long as that capsule stays clear one has good vision. But in 10 to 30% of people, the posterior capsule loses its clarity. The symptoms from this may be very similar to those that occurred prior to the cataract surgery. Some patients may feel like the cataract is "coming back." Even though the symptoms are similar, it is much easier to treat this scarring of the posterior capsule. An opening is made in the capsule with a laser (posterior capsulotomy) to restore normal vision.

secondary cataract YAG laser
A laser is a quick and painless procedure that can remove scar tissue formed following cataract surgery.

A posterior capsulotomy is painless and takes five minutes. Eye pressure is taken an hour after the operation to make sure it is not elevated. Potential but rare complications following laser posterior capsulotomy are increased intraocular pressure and retinal detachment. Symptoms typically improve within a day following the procedure. Once performed, it is unusual to have to perform a laser posterior capsulotomy a second time on the same eye.