YAG Laser Surgery
YAG laser surgery is the most up-to-date form of treatment for several eye conditions. Most commonly, it is performed to treat cataracts and several types of glaucoma. The surgery, which utilizes advanced laser techniques, is precise, safe and often highly successful.
YAG Laser Surgery for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a disease in which fluid in the eye builds up and damages the optic nerve. There are two basic types of glaucoma: open angle and closed angle. The angle refers to the area between the iris and cornea, through which fluid escapes. The success rate for YAG laser glaucoma surgery varies with the nature and stage of the disease. Since glaucoma is a disorder in which there is high pressure in the fluid of the eye, the surgical procedure is designed to promote drainage. At times, YAG surgery may effect an almost complete lowering of eye pressure, but in many cases prescribed eye drops will still be required. Surgeries which result in symptom relief for one to five years are considered successful. Following are three types of YAG surgery for glaucoma:
Laser Trabeculoplasty - This surgery is performed to relieve intraocular pressure in patients with open angle glaucoma. Its success rate is best one year after treatment, but declines after five years. This surgery takes two forms: argon laser trabeculoplasty, or ALT, and selective laser trabeculoplasty, or SLT. The ALT procedure is performed only once, while the SLT may be repeated. Both procedures are used to increase fluid outflow through the trabecular mesh work of the eye. SLT has been developed more recently and is generally considered a safer procedure since it is less likely to damage delicate tissues.
Laser Iridotomy - This surgery is performed on patients to correct the anatomical structure of patients with narrow angles or on patients who already suffer from narrow angle or angle closure glaucoma. During this procedure, the laser makes a tiny hole in the iris, increasing the angle between the iris and the cornea and allowing fluid to drain. Laser iridotomy has a high rate of success and either prevents or cures angle closure glaucoma in almost all patients on whom it is performed. This is important because angle closure glaucoma involves high eye pressure, pain and even loss of vision.
Laser Cyclophotocoagulation - This procedure is performed on patients with severe damage as a result of glaucoma. It is a last resort for patients for whom other treatments have been unsuccessful. During cyclophotocoagulation, lasers are used to destroy the ciliary body, the part of the eye that produces fluid. For most patients this surgery results in eye pressure reduction to an acceptable level.
YAG Laser Surgery for Posterior Capsulotomy
Posterior capsular opacification, or PCO, is a frequent complication of cataract surgery. Sometimes called a secondary cataract, PCO recreates the visual difficulties originally experienced as a result of the cataract. YAG laser surgery is recommended if the clear posterior capsule now holding the intraocular lens of the eye, or IOL, becomes cloudy or wrinkled and the resulting visual problems interfere with daily living. During the posterior capsulotomy, a YAG laser is used to open a window in the back of the lens capsule to let light pass through to the retina, restoring clear vision.
Risks of YAG Laser Surgery
YAG laser surgery is considered to be very safe, but all surgical procedures involve some risk. In the posterior capsulotomy, the most serious risk is that the retina will detach. While the rate of occurrence of a detached retina approximately doubles after this surgery, the risk is still only about 2 percent. There is also a risk that eye pressure will temporarily rise after the procedure.
Risks of YAG laser surgeries from glaucoma may include:
- Failure to achieve desired results
- Continued need for medication
- Need for further surgery
- Permanent loss of vision