In this cataract surgery (which is also known as phaco), a small incision is made on the side of the cornea -- the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Your doctor inserts a tiny probe into the eye. This device emits ultrasound waves that soften and break up the lens so that it can be removed by suction. Most cataract surgery today is done by phacoemulsification, also called "small incision cataract surgery."
In this type of cataract surgery, your doctor makes a longer incision on the side of the cornea and removes the cloudy core of the lens in one piece. The rest of the lens is removed by suction.
In both types of cataract surgery, after the natural lens has been removed, it often is replaced by an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens. An intraocular lens is a clear, plastic lens that requires no care and becomes a permanent part of your eye. Light is focused clearly by the intraocular lens onto the retina, improving your vision. You will not feel or see the new lens.
Some people cannot have an intraocular lens. They may have another eye disease or have problems during surgery. For these patients, a soft contact lens, or glasses that provide high magnification, may be suggested.
A week or two before cataract surgery, your doctor will do some tests. These tests may include measuring the curve of the cornea and the size and shape of your eye. This information helps your doctor choose the right type of intraocular lens. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything 12 hours before your cataract surgery.