The three types of cataract surgery today are phacoemulsification, extracapsular extraction, and intracapsular phacoemulsification.
Intracapsular phacoemulsification is the type of cataract surgery that is most used. The surgeon makes a tiny incision, and an ultrasound probe is used to dissolve the cloudy lens. Using the same probe, the fragments of the lens are suctioned out. No stitches or eye patches are necessary. Below is an instructional animation video on phacoemulsification.
With intracapsular cataract surgery, a procedure not used often, it is necessary to make an even larger incision, the entire lens and the capsule around it are removed together. The lens then will be put in front of the iris.
Once the cataract is removed, one of three types of artificial lens is put into the thin capsular bag where the other lens was located. Some intraocular lenses will block ultraviolet light, some work like bifocals, some are rigid and some are flexible. The rigid ones require stitches but the flexible ones do not.
Monofocal lenses are the most commonly used in cataract surgery. They provide good distance vision that may require eye glasses, especially for reading. The Toric lens will correct distance vision and can also correct astigmatism but vision may still require eye glasses for close tasks. Your ophthalmologist may also prescribe moist contact lenses that offer UV protection for superior comfort.
Multifocal lenses use the latest technology. With these, vision is improved for varying distances, both near and far and in between, but they will not correct astigmatism. It is best to discuss with your surgeon the type of lens that is best suited to your condition.
Intraocular lenses are very durable and can last a lifetime. The lens capsule around it may become cloudy, a situation that can be easily treated by laser to clear it up. Cataract surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure with a local anesthetic. However, if surgery is not an option for a patient, vision problems can still be corrected with comfortable contact lenses that define eye color.