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Phacoemulsification/Cataract Surgery

Cataract is a condition, in which the natural crystalline lens of the eye becomes opaque resulting in vision impairment or even a complete loss of vision. Age related metabolic changes of the lens fibre (i.e. senile cataract), traumatic cataract (i.e. cataract due to injury), and congenital cataract (i.e. born with) are the common causes of cataract. They can also be secondary to an underlying medical condition like diabetes, excessive exposure to sunlight or abuse of alcohol and smoking. Cataract can lead to decreased vision, glare, double vision, altered color perception, haloes around lights and decreased contrast sensitivity.

Procedure

Surgical removal of the cataract is a simple day care procedure which may last between half an hour to an hour and is conducted under general anesthesia, with minimal complications to the patient. Prior to the surgery, eye drops are used to dilate the pupil and the area around the eye is cleansed and washed adequately.

Phacoemulsification is an extra capsular extraction procedure, where the natural lens is removed completely, while maintaining the lens capsule for implantation of the artificial intraocular lens. Before the phacoemulsification is performed, one or more incisions are made in the eye to allow the introduction of surgical instruments. The surgeon then removes the anterior face of the capsule that contains the lens inside the eye. The phaco probe is an ultrasonic handpiece with a titanium or steel needle. The tip of the needle vibrates at ultrasonic frequency to sculpt and emulsify (soften) the cataract while a pump aspirates particles through the tip. The cataract is usually broken into two or four pieces and each piece is emulsified and aspirated out with suction.

Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are different from contact lenses. During Phaco surgery, the IOL of appropriate power is fitted inside the eye. The foldable IOLs can be inserted through a very small incision. These are made of high quality material. They unfold in the eye and are permanent and lifelong.