Medical technology for cataract treatment has advanced significantly in the past few decades. Anesthesia is now administered in the form of eye drops instead of injections, and in most cases, patients no longer require sutures after cataract removal. Dr. Manoj at Shivam Eye Hospital performs state-of-the-art phacoemulsification to remove cataracts using ultrasound energy.

What is Phacoemulsification?

Phacoemulsification, also called “phaco,” is a cataract-removal procedure that uses an ultrasound device to break up and remove a natural lens that is cloudy because of cataracts through very small incisions. Literally, phacoemulsification means liquification of the natural lens of the eye. It is derived from the Greek word “phakos,” which means lens.

How is Phacoemulsification performed?

Cataract removal with phacoemulsification is performed on an outpatient basis under topical anesthesia and intravenous sedation. After sedation and numbing drugs are administered, Surgeon makes two very small incisions (two millimeters and one millimeter) in the cornea (the transparent layer forming the front of the eye). A thick, sticky, glue-like material made from substances naturally occurring in the body is then injected into the cornea to help maintain its shape during the procedure.

Surgeon creates an opening in the lens capsule (the natural sac that holds the lens in place). The lens is then separated from the lens capsule using a balanced saline solution. When the capsule is open, and the lens can move freely inside, Surgeon uses a special ultrasound device to break up the lens into tiny pieces and suction it from the eye.

After the natural lens is removed from the eye, more thick, sticky material is injected to hold the lens capsule open and allow for placement of a new, artificial lens. This long-term replacement lens, known as an intraocular lens (IOL), allows more light and sharper images to reach the retina.

The thick, sticky material that was injected to maintain the shape of the eye is removed. The two small incisions made at the beginning of surgery self-seal and do not require sutures in most cases.

Cataract removal using phacoemulsification is not painful during or after the procedure. After cataract surgery, you will need to use antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops for a few weeks.

Why are stiches usually not required in Phacoemulsification?

This cutting-edge procedure requires only a tiny incision that is constructed to be self-sealing. A foldable lens is inserted through the small, two-millimeter, water-tight incision. Surgeries that require a larger incision to place an intraocular lens that cannot be folded may require one stitch.

What are the advantages of Phacoemulsification for cataract removal?

The major advantage of phacoemulsification is a small, self-sealing incision. Traditional cataract surgery required a much larger incision (10 to 12 mm) and sutures for closing.

Cataract surgery using phacoemulsification reduces the risk of complications. With faster and more predictable wound healing, it has a shorter recovery time than conventional cataract removal and is far easier on the patient. As incisions are small and stitches are usually not required, this procedure also reduces the risk of cornea distortion and astigmatism (deviation from spherical curvature resulting in distorted images).