Phacoemulsification is the aspect of the procedure in which ultrasonic vibrations are used to break the cataract into smaller fragments. These fragments are then aspirated from the eye using the same instrumentation
The surgeon may elect to create grooves in the cataract, and subsequently break the cataract into smaller pieces using the phacoemulsification tip and a second instrument passed through a smaller “side-port” incision.
The lateral view of the procedure shows the phacoemulsification tip being placed into the substance of the cataract by the eye surgeon. The “phaco” aspect of the procedure is used to remove the denser central nucleus of the cataract.
Once the denser central nucleus of the cataract has been removed, the softer peripheral cortex of the cataract is removed using an irrigation/aspiration handpiece. The posterior, or back side, of the lens capsule is left intact to help support the intraocular lens (IOL) implant
The intraocular lens is often folded and passed through the tiny incision where it is opened (implanted) inside the “capsular bag”. In this illustration, the lens is being inserted via an “injector”. This is an instrument designed to help keep the incision size small while allowing implantation of a 6 millimeter lens through a 3 millimeter (or even smaller) incision!
The IOL is shown here implanted within the “capsular bag” where it is neatly centered. The springy “arms” of the IOL, known as haptics, hold the lens implant within the capsular bag. The IOL does not generally require sutures to remain in good position.
This Lateral view of the IOL implant shows the lens within the “capsular bag”, which is the desired location. This position is the same as that of the natural lens (cataract) of the eye and, therefore, is generally tolerated best and provides the most optimal visual results. At this stage, the cataract operation with IOL implantation is complete.