YAG Laser Treatment aims to reduce the cloudiness and glare in the person’s vision following cataract surgery. However, YAG laser treatment can have several immediate and mid-term side effects that can impede vision.
Driving after YAG Laser Treatment depends on the severity of any type of complication that may manifest after the treatment. Some complications like blurred or hazy vision and the appearance of floaters can be a potential cause of road accidents and must therefore be a big consideration before driving.
Posterior Capsule Opacification or After-Cataract
Cataracts happen to over three million American people every year. Cataract surgery involves making a circular opening and removing the inner nucleus of the lens of the eyes and replacing it with an intraocular lens. The lens membrane keeps this intraocular lens in place.
However, complications of cataract surgery can lead to posterior capsule opacification (PCO). This resembles the same symptoms as the cataract itself. Hence, PCO is also called an after-cataract.
This occurs when the intraocular lens develops new epithelial cells and disrupts the passage of light into the eyes. This complication results in cloudiness due to the formation of new cells which acts as frosting to the back of the lens.
YAG posterior capsulotomy aims to correct PCO or after-cataract by allowing light to pass through the clouded region of the eyes to reduce glare and improve vision.
YAG Laser Treatment
YAG laser treatment started in the 1980s as a procedure after the removal of cataracts. It used bursts of yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) to remove cloudiness as a result of post-surgery opacification.
The YAG laser is considered an in-office laser that does not pose any threat to a person’s vision. It only breaks up the clouded section of the lens of the eyes to allow light to pass through.
Usually, this procedure is considered as an outpatient procedure that only takes 5-10 minutes and can immediately restore or improve vision. However, it is often advised to take anti-inflammatory medication to further facilitate healing and relieve any discomfort.
Side Effects of YAG Laser Treatment
YAG Laser Treatment, however, carries several risks including nerve detachment at the posterior part of the eye, swelling of the retina, damage to the intraocular lens, bleeding, and corneal edema.
The procedure can also have several side effects. These side effects can manifest for the first five months after the procedure. Some of the side effects of YAG laser treatment are recurrence of clouded vision, a shadow in the peripheral vision, glaucoma, macular holes, swelling and inflammation, glare, cystoid macular edema, and appearance of floaters.
Floaters are the most common among these side effects. Floaters manifest as small to large spots in the field of vision. They can also be dark or transparent and can have an amoeba-like figure. This occurs due to the formation of a gel-like substance called vitreous fluid in the interior of the eyes.
Floaters can disappear a couple of weeks after the YAG treatment. However, it can be very disorienting and distracting.
Is It Okay to Drive After YAG Laser Treatment?
A patient needs to wait for one to two hours after the operation to ensure no immediate side effects. For a few days after the treatment, however, a patient may experience sore, itchy, and weepy eyes, headaches, or blurred vision. These conditions will improve in just a few days.
Generally, it is okay to drive after YAG treatment depending on the severity of the after-effects of the treatment. Blurry vision for a few days after the treatment can become a risk for drivers. Wearing prescription eyeglasses until the eyes go back to normal can help prevent road accidents.
Floaters, however, can be a more serious threat to safety when driving. It can occur spontaneously in the person’s field of vision, which can be mistaken as a road hazard. These spots on the person’s vision can be a potential distraction when driving.
Thus, it is important to assess the gravity of the eye condition and any complications before deciding to drive. The patient must consult with an eye health professional to facilitate and hasten the healing of such complications before going back to driving.
One tip is to avoid any more complications is to avoid any chemicals from reaching the eyes. Meaning, if possible, avoid wearing eye makeup for several days since the eyes are still sensitive due to the treatment. Accidental placement of chemicals in the eyes post-treatment can lead to infections and other complications.
Similarly, it is important to avoid bath products from reaching the eyes. Simply touching or rubbing the eyes can also put the eyes at risk for complications. Also, swimming and contact sports are generally not allowed since the eyes need to be protected at all times.
YAG Laser Treatment is a frequent and normal operation for people suffering from post-cataract surgery complications. It is a relatively quick procedure that only involves clearing the cloudy section of the eyes using a specialized laser. However, the procedure itself can produce a wide variety of potential side effects with different cases of severity that can affect or impair vision. As such, the safety of driving after YAG treatment depends on the appearance of such complications and their severity.