What is a Posterior Capsulotomy?

Sounds like a mouthful, but a posterior capsulotomy is basically a kind of laser surgery many people might need after cataract surgery to help them see more clearly if their vision gets cloudy again, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology. During cataract surgery, an ophthalmologist will remove the cloudy lens in your eye, replacing it with a clear, artificial intraocular lens, or IOL.

It’s secured in place within your eye’s natural lens capsule but with the passage of time (months or years later), the capsule can get cloudy or wrinkled, which can result in blurry vision. This is known as a posterior capsule opacification (PCO) or secondary cataract. During a posterior capsulotomy, the doctor uses a laser to make an opening in the capsule, allowing light to pass through and clear up your vision once again.

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 50 percent of patients who under cataract surgery need a capsulotomy within three years.

During cataract surgery, the back or posterior part of the capsule is left intact after the doctor removes the rest of the lens, maintaining the normal barrier between the interior compartments of the eye. The back part of that capsule can support the intraocular lens implant, inserted during cataract surgery.

Think of the capsule as a piece of cellophane. When stretched tight, it’s easy to see. But over time, it gets wrinkled, making vision blurry – much like the original cataract did.

What to Expect During a Posterior Capsulotomy

This procedure is done as an outpatient procedure, just like cataract surgery, and can be performed in your ophthalmologist’s office or an outpatient surgical center. Best part is, it only takes about five minutes. Here’s what to expect:

Eye drops will be placed in your eyes to numb them, as well as other eye drops that will dilate your pupils.
You will be awake during the entire procedure.
The doctor points a laser at the back of your lens capsule, then makes a small opening to allow light to pass through.
After the procedure, you can resume your normal daily activities. Just be sure to have someone drive you home, as you really shouldn’t be driving immediately after the procedure.
You may be given eye drops to use for a few days.
Your sight should improve within 24 hours provided you have no other issues.

Risks of Posterior Capsulotomy

There are some risks and complications associated with posterior capsulotomy, as with any surgery.

Detached retina, resulting in a “gray curtain” moving across the field of vision.
Floaters or flashes of light. While it’s common to see some floaters the day of the surgery, call your ophthalmologist right away if you see a sudden increase in these, they are intense, or they last more than a few hours.
Increased eye pressure. This is normal right after eye surgery, but elevated eye pressure (AKA ocular hypertension) over prolonged periods of time can result in glaucoma. Be sure to see your doctor for all follow ups.
The IOL could pass through the posterior capsule opening.
Swelling in your eyes, which the doctor can prescribe steroid eye drops for.

Book Your Posterior Capsulotomy Consultation With Broberg Eye Care

To learn more about posterior capsulotomy you schedule an appointment or call us at (512) 447-6096. Our hours are Monday through Friday, with a convenient location at 4207 James Casey St #305 in Austin, TX.

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