YAG laser patients

YAG laser capsulotomy

Getting a Diagnosis 

If you experienced good vision following your cataract surgery, but you’re starting to experience one or more of the symptoms of PCO (usually about three months or more after surgery) then you need to get your eyes checked as soon as possible by your local optician, who will assess your general eye health and conduct a sight test to check the quality of your vision. If a diagnosis of PCO is confirmed and you meet the referral criteria for treatment, your optician will be able to refer you to a treatment provider like SpaMedica, who will carry out your YAG laser capsulotomy free of charge.   

Choosing a provider 

As with your cataract surgery, if you live in England, you can choose where to receive your treatment. Just let your optician know which treatment provider you’d like to go to, and then they will send a referral to your chosen provider. If you choose SpaMedica as your provider, please let your optician know which of our hospitals is most convenient for you. You should hear back from your provider within two to three weeks following your referral. 

Information for Patients in Wales

While patients in England are currently able to choose where to have their YAG laser treatment, if you live in Wales, your Local Health Board will make that decision for you. You can find details of your Local Health Board on the NHS Wales website. As all NHS Wales referrals are managed by your Local Health Board, SpaMedica is unfortunately unable to accept direct referrals for treatment from your optician or GP.

Booking an appointment 

Your chosen hospital/provider will contact you by phone or letter to book an appointment. Our SpaMedica referrals team calls each of our patients within 2 to 3 days of receiving your referral. We’ll talk through the next steps with you, answer any questions you may have, and you can choose an appointment date to suit you.  

A SpaMedica nurse checking the eye fluid pressure of a SpaMedica patient using a Tonometer

So what will happen at my first appointment?

The purpose of your first appointment at the hospital is to run a thorough check on your eyes to confirm that YAG Capsulotomy is the best treatment for you. Several eye tests will be conducted, with your appointment lasting about 1 to 1.5 hours (which includes about 30 to 40 minutes to allow your pupils to dilate – see ‘part 4’ below). 

Dilating the eyes causes blurred vision and sensitivity to light, so you won’t be able to drive, and it’s important to make sure you organise a lift or arrange transport to/from the hospital.  

Please feel free to ask the nurse or your optometrist any questions you may have about your treatment– see ‘steps 7 and 8’ below. 

You’ll need to bring your current glasses, a list of your current medications, record book (if you’re diabetic or taking Warfarin) and a contact number of a relative/friend. If you wear contact lenses, these should be removed just before your appointment. 

Step-by-step guide to your YAG appointment

  1. Welcome – You will be welcomed and signed in by one of our friendly reception team members and directed to the assessment clinic. You will be seated in our clinic reception and offered complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits. 
  2. Vision test – The first test we conduct is to check your vision. This is done using a chart, the same as used in opticians, where we ask you to read letters from the top line downwards on the chart. 
  3. Eye pressure – It is important to test the pressure in each eye to check eye health and test for glaucoma. Anaesthetic drops will be placed in each eye before the eye pressure test, which is conducted using a handheld meter, which gently touches the surface of the eye and provides a digital readout of the pressure in the eye. 
  4. Eye diagnostics – We run a diagnostic test that takes a magnified colour photo of your eye and check the general health of your eyes. 
  5. Pupils dilated – Drops are placed in each eye to dilate the pupils (this makes your pupils larger, so we can examine the eye). It usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes for your pupils to dilate and then we can examine your eyes. Dilating your pupils affects your vision and sensitivity to light for up to four hours, so you will not be able to drive yourself home after the appointment. And, of course, you will be offered more complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits while we wait for your pupils to dilate. 
  6. Additional tests (if required) – A few patients require some additional eye tests at their pre-operative assessment – for example, people with pre-existing eye conditions or those who have previously had laser treatment. These include imaging tests; one takes a cross-section image of your retina and the other measures and checks the shape of your cornea. 
  7. General healthcare – One of our friendly SpaMedica nurses will conduct a routine blood pressure test and temperature check. They will discuss your current health and what regular medication you are taking (both prescription and non-prescription). They will also talk through your YAG Capsulotomy treatment and what will happen on the day of the procedure, explaining everything thoroughly and answering any questions you may have. 
  8. Optometrist check – All your test results are checked and analysed by a SpaMedica optometrist (eye healthcare specialist). They check to make sure that YAG Capsulotomy is suitable for you and will discuss the benefits and risks of the treatment. If both your eyes require treatment, the optometrist will talk about which eye we would recommend is treated first. This is usually the eye with the worst vision, but the optometrist will discuss this fully with you to find out the best option for you. 
  9. Consent – We take time to discuss with each of our patients the details of your YAG Capsulotomy procedure, the benefits that you should get from the treatment and also the risks. We’ll check that you understand everything and ask you to sign a consent form, which lets us know you give your permission for the treatment to go ahead. Please let us know if you have a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or require support for giving consent. 
  10. Booking your treatment date – The final stage of your appointment is to book a date for your YAG Capsulotomy. Our receptionist will give you available dates and you can choose a time and date to suit you. 
Happy SpaMedica patient having her eyes examined by a SpaMedica employee

YAG Laser Treatment 

As someone who’s already been through cataract surgery, hopefully you’ll be less anxious about your YAG laser capsulotomy, which will be over and done with before you know it! There are no needles or eye clamps, the laser treatment takes about 30 seconds, and this time you will be sat up for the duration – there’s no need to lie down. Here’s some more advice and recommendations for treatment:

  • The time given for your appointment is the time you should arrive at the hospital and NOT the time of your treatment – arriving earlier will mean a longer wait for you 
  • Please arrange transport to and from the hospital – your eyes will be dilated during the appointment and this causes blurred vision and sensitivity to light, so you won’t be able to drive and it’s important to make sure you organise a lift or arrange transport.  
  • We recommend eating a light meal before you arrive at the hospital 
  • Please take all your medications as normal, unless we have specifically advised you not to 
  • You should wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing – you will not need to wear a hospital gown 
  • It’s OK to wear make-up for your appointment 

Step-by-step guide to your YAG laser treatment

All the SpaMedica team are here to support you, make you feel at ease and make your time with us as stress-free as possible. 

1. Welcome – You will receive a big smile and warm welcome from our friendly reception team. They will check you in and take you through to the patient waiting area. You will be offered complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits and if you’ve brought someone with you to your appointment, they’re free to help themselves too. 

2. Arranging pick up – If someone isn’t already waiting for you in our reception area, our reception team will ask for the contact details of the person who will be picking you up after your treatment and we will give them a ring when you’re ready to go home.  

3. Pre-treatment – One of the nurses will call you through to the pre-treatment room and pop some drops into your eye to dilate your pupil. 

4. Clinic reception – We’ll ask you to wait in the clinic reception while we’re waiting for your pupils to dilate, which usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes.  

5. Your treatment: 

  • You will be called through to the treatment room once your pupils are dilated. 
  • The treatment will be performed by one of our experienced optometrists or specialty doctors, who will welcome you and explain the next steps. 
  • You will be sat in a chair (or you can stay in your wheelchair). The optometrist/doctor will ask you to rest your chin on a bar. This is a similar position to the one you will have been in when you had your eyes checked at the opticians. 
  •  You will look straightforward and see a bright light. 
  •  The optometrist/doctor will deliver a burst of laser to the centre of your pupil – this only takes about 30 to 60 seconds. 
  •  Treatment all done – take a deep breath and smile! 

6. Time to go home – we’ll call the contact you gave us to organise a lift home, if they’re not already waiting for you in the reception area.  

Delighted SpaMedica patient looks on in the distance

After your treatment

  • It’s usual for your vision to be blurred following the treatment, with the majority of patients seeing an improvement in their vision within 24 hours. 
  • You may also experience floaters after the surgery, but these should resolve within a few weeks. 
  • You can go back to your normal daily activities the day following treatment, including driving. 

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