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What Is Phacoemulsification?

Older Woman Without Cataracts

Cataracts are a common eye condition, especially in older patients. The natural lens in our eye tends to get cloudy as a normal side effect of age.

Cataracts don’t only affect the elderly, either. Anyone above the age of forty is likely to develop a cataract. Even younger patients can get cataracts.

Even though cataracts are common, it doesn’t mean you have to live with them forever. While they may be easy to ignore at first, as they worsen, your vision will suffer.

As this happens, your lens becomes cloudier, making it impossible to complete activities. Luckily, there is a way to treat cataracts– through cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery, like cataracts, is a common procedure. A key part of the modern cataract procedure is a process called phacoemulsification.

What is phacoemulsification, and why is it used? To understand that, let’s talk about how cataract surgery works.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a simple out-patient procedure that takes about 30 minutes. The procedure begins with a small incision made in the eye that allows access to the lens and the lens capsule.

The lens, and sometimes part of the capsule, is then removed and replaced with an artificial lens.

Removing The Cataract

Phacoemulsification comes into play when removing the affected lens. This process breaks up the cataract and lens, allowing the pieces to be sucked out of the eye with a vacuum. Phacoemulsification, or breaking up the lens, use ultrasonic waves.

The Technology

Phacoemulsification occurs with the use of a phacoemulsification ultrasound probe. The device uses ultrasonic waves to break apart the cataract.

In laser-assisted cataract surgery, a laser is used to first soften the lens.

This makes it easier to break up the cataract with the probe. But in traditional surgery, the probe is all that’s used.


Besides the use of a laser, there are other less advanced methods to remove a cataract. Before phacoemulsification, surgeons would remove the lens by detaching it.

Then, a part of the lens capsule would be removed and pulled through the incision. This method requires a much larger incision in the eye to accommodate the entire lens.

Phacoemulsification is the preferred method because of the smaller incision. With a smaller incision, recovery becomes easier.

There are some circumstances where a surgeon may still need to use this method. It is safer for patients with corneal disease. Lens detachment may be used if a patient’s pupil shrank while the incision was being made.

Thanks to phacoemulsification, cataracts are obliterated! This leads to clear vision and a new view of the world. There’s no reason to let cataracts diminish your vision anymore.

Like other modern procedures, there’s no pain with phacoemulsification or cataract surgery. With numbing eye drops, you won’t feel a thing during cataract surgery at Chicago Cornea Consultants™!

Do you have cataracts? Considering cataract surgery?

Have your cataracts evaluated for surgery by Chicago Cornea Consultants™. You can Book Now at our locations in Chicago, Hoffman Estates, or Highland Park! Don’t let your fear of the unknown stand in your way of regaining your vision!

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