What is a YAG?

YAG … Yes, the infamous YAG laser.  This is one of many laser treatments available to us in the world of ophthalmology. This particular laser treatment is done in order to restore your sight if clouding of vision occurs after cataract or lens replacement surgery. Let me explain … when your natural lens is removed we leave a membrane in place (like a drumhead) to help stabilize the eye. This membrane, also called a capsule, most likely will become cloudy as a normal part of the healing process.  The cloudiness is not harming your eye; however, you may notice symptoms of blurred vision and glare. 


The YAG laser treatment is very simple and one of the safest procedures in ophthalmology. Your eye will be dilated (you might want to bring a driver with you) so your surgeon has a good view of the cloudy capsule. You just sit upright in a chair like when you have your eyes examined.  The procedure is performed in a matter of minutes with an invisible laser beam and there is no pain or discomfort.


You may experience floaters for up to two weeks after the laser, however, this is normal and to be expected.  Do let us know immediately, though, if you have flashing lights with a new onset of floaters or a curtain of darkness that comes over your vision.  As I said, the YAG laser is very safe, however no procedure is risk free.  That “Fourth of July” celebration with flashing lights and multiple floaters could be symptoms of a retinal detachment (less than a 1 in 1,000 chance of occurrence). Keep in mind that the YAG laser is much safer than cataract surgery and the benefit of restored vision certainly outweighs the risk.


Here’s some more good news about the YAG laser … No eye drops are needed and there are no restrictions before or after the procedure. If you currently use eye drops your normal routine will not change. This is a medically necessary laser procedure and is billable to your insurance just like cataract surgery. Last, but not least, I’ll bet you’d like to know what YAG stands for, right?  Y= Yttrium  A= Aluminum  G= Garnet.

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