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Many people falsely believe that cataract surgery is typically performed with a laser. In fact, this is one of the most common misperceptions in medicine. The most common and advanced cataract surgery technique is phacoemulsification or "phaco." The surgeon first makes a small incision at the edge of the cornea and then creates an opening in the membrane that surrounds the cataractous lens. This thin membrane is called the capsule. Next, a small ultrasonic probe is inserted through the opening in the cornea and capsule. The probe's vibrating tip breaks up or "emulsifies" the cloudy lens into tiny fragments that are suctioned out of the capsule by an attachment on the probe tip. After the lens is completely removed, the probe is withdrawn leaving only the clear (now empty) bag-like capsule, which will act as support for the intraocular lens (IOL).
Phacoemulsification allows cataract surgery to be performed through a very small incision in the cornea. Stitches are seldom needed to close this tiny entry, which means that there is less discomfort and quicker recovery of vision than with other surgical techniques. Small incisions do not change the curvature of the cornea like larger ones that were required with older surgical techniques. This allows for more rapid rehabilitation of vision and possibly less dependence on glasses for good distance vision.
After removal of the cataract-damaged lens, an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted. It is made from soft acrylic or solid medical-grade silicone. IOLs are folded so they can be implanted with a small injector, which uses the same incision through which the phaco probe was inserted at the beginning of the procedure. As the IOL is implanted, it unfolds and anchors itself behind the eye's pupil over the remaining clear capsule. The IOL to be implanted is selected based on measurements made before surgery.
Laser Cataract Surgery
Many people falsely believe that cataract surgery is typically perforned with a laser. In fact, this is a common misperceptions in medicine.
A possible complication of adults having standard extracapsular surgery or phacoemulsification for cataracts is clouding of the part of the lens covering (capsule) that remains after surgery, called posterior capsule opacification. If the cloudiness affects your vision, you may choose to have a laser surgery called YAG posterior capsulotomy to correct this problem. A laser (YAG laser) is used to cut a hole in the clouded back lining of the lens capsule to allow light to pass through the membrane to the retina at the back of the eye. The YAG laser is currently considered the best way to remove the back lining of the lens capsule.