In modern terms, cataract surgery requires the removal of the lens material using phacoemulsification, a high frequency ultrasound tool.
Phacoemulsification or simply ‘Phaco’, involves a corneal incision wherein a small cut is made on the side of the cornea, the clear surface covering the front of the eye. Another hole is created in the capsule, the bag that surrounds the lens. Afterwards, a tiny probe utilizing ultrasound waves is used to soften and emulsify the cloudy lens so that it can be further aspirated or removed by suction. Newer cataract surgical
techniques including smaller incisions into the eye associated with less complications compared to what was seen previously.
After the removal of the cloudy lens, an artificial lens, called intraocular lens (IOL), is inserted to replace the natural lens.
The recovery from phacoemulsification cataract surgery is approximately six weeks time for maximum visual recovery, with some patients showing substantial improvement of sight within twenty four hours, depending on several factors including the underlying age of the cataract (implies hardness), corneal disease and other factors which may compromise the long term improvement of sight.
Phacoemulsification techniques are performed with the patients awake in an operating room environment.
EXTRACAPSULAR CATARACT EXTRACTION (ECCE)
ECCE involves making a longer incision (10-12 mm) to the side of the cornea. Although Phacoemulsification is preferred by eye doctors, ECCE proves to be useful in cases where the cataracts to be removed are very hard. After the lens is successfully removed manually, it will be replaced by an IOL too. Finally, the incision will be sutured to close it.