What Are The Different Types Of Cataract Surgery?

When a person suffers from cataracts, a thin film has grown over the lens of their eyes that makes their vision seem very blurred or cloudy. In mild cataract cases, stronger eyeglasses and using brighter lighting can sometimes improve the vision. However, for more severe cataract conditions, surgery is usually necessary to correct the person's vision. When cataract surgery is performed, the cloudy lens of the eye is removed and replaced with a plastic lens. These are some different procedures that are used to perform cataract surgery.


Phacoemulsification is the most common type of cataract surgery performed. This procedure is done by making a tiny incision in the eye near the cornea. Then a narrow ultrasound probe is inserted into the eye which dissolves the clouded layer of natural lens with ultrasonic vibrations. The small fragments of dissolved lens are then suctioned out of the eye.

When the cataract is removed, an artificial lens is inserted into the small capsular bag of the eye that held the natural lens. The eye is then numbed with special drops and allowed to heal on its own. This procedure takes only a very short time to complete, does not require sutures to stitch the incision back up, and heals quickly.

Extracapsular Cataract Surgery 

Extracapsular cataract surgery is a procedure for patients who have thicker cataracts that cannot be dissolved to be removed. Instead, a large incision must be made so that the cataract can be removed in one piece. Then the artificial lens is placed into the capsular bag of the eye. 

However, this method does take longer to heal because sutures must be made to close the large incision. A numbing injection is also applied around the eye after the procedure to manage pain. During the healing process, the patient is usually required to wear an eye patch.

Intracapsular Cataract Surgery 

Intracapsular cataract surgery is normally only performed on those who have extremely severe cataracts. An even larger incision must be made to remove the entire lens of the affected eye and the capsular bag. The artificial lens is placed in front of the iris and then sutures are made to close the incision. This procedure also requires numbing injections, a longer healing period and wearing an eye patch afterwards until the eye has healed.

Having cataract surgery may also improve the person's vision in other ways. The artificial lenses that are implanted in the eye are customized for each patient according to their vision needs. For instance, if the patient had astigmatism that required them to wear eyeglasses before the cataracts developed, this may no longer be necessary because the artificial lens implants are made to correct astigmatism. For more information, talk to a professional like Northwest Ophthalmology.