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Types of Cataract Surgery

Cataracts are cloudy occlusions that develop in the natural lens of the eye over time. The normally transparent natural lens is critically important for clear vision, and cataracts can make objects seem hazy and blurred. 


As you age, proteins and fibres within the lens tend to break down and clump together, leading to the characteristic opacification which adversely affects eyesight. While getting older is the most common cause of cataracts, other factors like genetics, trauma, medical conditions, and lifestyle factors can all also lead to cataract formation.


The most effective long-term treatment for cataracts is surgery. Most Ophthalmologists will recommend cataract surgery when your quality of life begins to get affected by vision problems. Generally regarded as safe, the chances of complications from cataract surgery are small and the benefits generally outweigh the risks.

Types Of Cataract Surgery

There are generally two main types of cataract surgeries routinely performed. They both use different techniques for the removal of the occluded natural lens. The old lens is then replaced by a biocompatible artificial lens, known as intraocular lens (IOL), and is usually made of acrylicor silicone.

Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery

The most common and preferred surgery for cataracts is known as Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery. In this procedure, a small incision is made in the cornea through which a tiny ultrasound probe is inserted. The probe emits high-frequency ultrasonic waves which vibrate and break up the lens tissue so it can be suctioned out.


Once the old lens is suctioned out, the new artificial lens can then be inserted into the same incision. Once inside, it is unfolded and positioned correctly so it can sit in place.


After the surgery, you will likely be observed for about 30 minutes and your vision will be cloudy for some time. Generally 24 hours after surgery your eyes may start to feel normal again, although sensitivity to light may persist for a few more days. Your eyes may take up to 6 weeks to fully heal after Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery.

Extracapsular Cataract Surgery

Extracapsular Cataract Surgery (ECCE) is an older procedure that is generally only used for individuals with very hard or large cataracts, or in patients with other eye conditions which may make it more challenging to perform phacoemulsification. 


During ECCE, a longer incision is made on the side of the cornea and the clouded core of the lens is removed in one piece. The remainder of the lens is then suctioned out, leaving space for the artificial lens to be inserted.


In most cases today, Phacoemulsification is preferred as it is associated with faster recovery times, less discomfort, and fewer complications compared to ECCE.

Types Of Artificial Lenses

The artificial lens implanted into your eye is chosen based on your individual needs and other pre-existing eye conditions you may have.


Monofocal Intraocular Lenses

Monofocal lenses are the traditional lens implant for most patients. As the name suggests, they are only able to focus on a specific range of vision. This is usually the distance vision required for driving. Hence, patients with implanted monofocal lenses after cataract surgery may require corrective glasses or contact lenses when doing tasks like reading or using a computer.


Toric Intraocular Lenses

Toric lens implants are used for patients with astigmatism. Unlike monofocal lenses, toric lenses have a unique shape that allows them to correct refractive errors in the eyes.


Multifocal Intraocular Lenses

Multifocal lenses have different zones and focal points which can allow for clear vision at multiple distances. This means patients may be able to clearly see objects at a distance and nearby. However multifocal lenses can cause halos or glares around bright lights, and may not be suitable for most patients.

Due to age, everyone will develop some level of cataracts in their eyes over the length of a lifetime. For some, it may reach a point where it obstructs normal vision and impairs them from carrying out daily activities. Cataract surgery is a low-risk procedure that can restore clear eyesight and allow patients to continue doing the things they love.


The symptoms of cataracts include cloudy or blurred vision, colours appearing faded, night blindness, and halos around lights. If you notice these signs, you should visit an eye specialist clinic and get your vision checked. Cataracts are very treatable and catching it early is always good.


Learn More: Cataract Surgery in Singapore: Warning Signs You May Have Cataracts


As a senior consultant Ophthalmologist with over 20 years of clinical experience, Dr Eugene Tay is a patient-centric and trustworthy eye specialist in Singapore. Contact us today to learn more about our services and let us know if you have any questions.

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