Types Of Cataracts Surgery

There are three type of cataracts surgery commonly performed today.

Phacoemulsification, extracapsular cataract surgery and intracapsular cataract surgery.

The type of surgery recommended will depend on the stage and severity of your cataracts.



Phacoemulsification

The most popular form of cataracts surgery today.

During the operating, with the help of an operating microscope, your surgeon will create two very small incision (can be as small as 3mm) near the cornea.

A circular opening is created on the lens surface (capsule) and a tiny probe that produces high frequency ultrasound waves, is inserted to break up and dissolve (phacoemulsify) the clouded lens.

The fragmented pieces are then suctioned out through the same probe.

After the remnants of the cataract lens are removed, an artificial lens known as Intraocular Lens (IOL) is placed into the same thin capsular bag that the natural lens once occupied.

This intraocular lens will now be the surrogate lens to help you focus in your daily doing.

The whole procedure takes less than 30 minutes to do. Due to small wounds, it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to recover.

No eye patch or stitching is normally needed after surgery.


Extracapsular Cataract Surgery

Also known as Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE).

This procedure is recommended by your doctor if your cataracts have advanced beyond the capability of the ultrasound waves to break it up or the doctor’s facility does not have phacoemulsification technology. 

A large incision (around 8 to 15 mm) is required for this procedure so that the clouded lens can be removed in one piece.

The capsular bag is opened up to extract the clouded and similar to phacoemusification, an artificial lens is positioned in the same capsular bag to replace the natural lens.

Below is a video of the cataracts surgery but let me warn you first. It is the real deal and not for the faint-hearted haha.

Due to the creation of a larger wound, this procedure requires several stitches and thus the visual recovery takes a longer time (may take 3 months).

The operation usually requires an injection of numbing medication around the eye and an eye patch after the surgery.



Intracapsular Cataract Surgery

Also known as intracapsular cataract extraction (ICCE) is the least common surgical technique these days unless in cases of significant trauma.

This procedure requires an even bigger wound than ECCE and involves removing both the lens and the capsule that holds the lens.

During the surgery, the surgeon will create a large opening and injects a type of solution dissolves the fibre which holds the clouded lens.

After the natural lens is removed, an intraocular lens is placed in front of the iris.

Due to bigger wound, patient of ICCE has a recovery period of six or more weeks and carries a greater risk of retinal detachment and swelling than other types of cataract surgery.


Complications Of Cataracts Surgery

It is said that risks of cataracts surgery are few and it is among the safest surgical procedures performed in our modern world.

However, low risks do not mean no risk.

It is said that less than 5 out of 100 people have complications which could threaten their eyesight.

Let us go through them in the honor of an informed citizen.


Posterior Capsule Opacity - Very common for post cataracts surgery. Also known as "secondary cataracts".

The capsule which holds the lens become hazy due to the remains of cataracts cells growing on them.

Another operation using laser may be required to vaporize the cells.


Dislocated Intraocular Lens - During the replacement, IOL is installed on the lens capsule.

However, this lens capsule is extremely thin and vulnerable after the cataracts surgical procedure.

It may disintegrate or shift position.

When dislocation happens, your surgeon will have to perform another operation to readjust the lens or sew it in place.


Other Complications

  • Increased introcular pressure - May cause glaucoma
  • Infection in the eye (endophthalmitis)
  • Bleeding in the eye (hyphema)
  • Retinal detachment - Be sure to inform your doctor if you observe sudden burst of floaters.
  • Rupture of the capsule and loss of vitreous gel in the eye.
  • Swelling of the cornea.


Final Word

I don't know whether you share the same sentiment as me but I am grateful that my eyes are still in healthy condition.

I hope that I do not have to through those invasive cataracts surgeries and the complications.

But how?

The only actionable way I know to prevent this, is to eat more eye food, get plenty of nutrients for my eyes and to avoid too much UV rays. 


Related Readings:

› Cataracts Surgery