is a painless, cloudy area in the lens of the
eye. The lens is enclosed in a lining called the lens capsule. Cataract surgery
separates the cataract from the lens capsule. In most cases, the lens will be
replaced with an intraocular lens implant (IOL). If an IOL cannot be used,
contact lenses or eyeglasses must be worn to compensate for the lack of a
See a picture of the
Phacoemulsification and standard extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) are
surgical methods that remove the cataract as well as the front portion of the
lens capsule (anterior capsule). The back of the lens capsule (posterior
capsule) is left inside the eye to keep the
in the back of the eye from oozing
forward through the and causing problems. The posterior capsule also
supports the IOL and helps keep it in the proper position. These types of
surgery are usually done in an setting and not in a hospital.
Phacoemulsification (small-incision surgery) is the most common type of cataract
surgery. It is used more often than standard ECCE, even though
they are similar procedures.
to see the steps that are done.
During phacoemulsification surgery:
- Two small incisions are made in the eye where the clear
front covering (cornea) meets the white of the eye (sclera).
circular opening is created on the lens surface (capsule).
- A small
surgical instrument (phaco probe) is inserted into the eye.
waves (ultrasound) are used to break the cataract into small pieces. The
cataract and lens pieces are removed from the eye using suction.
intraocular lens implant (IOL) may then be placed inside the lens
- Usually, the incisions seal themselves without stitches.
During standard ECCE:
- An 8 mm to
10 mm incision is made in the eye where the
clear front covering of the eye (cornea) meets the white of the eye (sclera).
- Another small incision is made into the front portion of the lens
capsule. The lens is removed, along with any remaining lens
- An IOL may then be placed
inside the lens capsule. And the incision is closed.
Most cataract surgery is done using a topical anesthetic
(eyedrops) or a . Local anesthetic may involve a sedative for
relaxation followed by an injection beside, under, or inside the eye to deaden
nerves and prevent blinking or eye movement during surgery.