How Are Cataracts Surgically Removed?


Cataracts are the clouding of the lens in the eye. Once this clouding interferes with your vision, it is often necessary to remove the cataract via surgery. More than 1.5 million surgeries to remove cataracts are done in the U.S each year, per


  • There are two methods of cataract surgery used: phacoemulsification (small incision) and large incision (extracapsular cataract extraction). The small incision method leaves most of your back lens in place, while the large incision method removes your center and side lens and requires sutures to close, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Lens Removal

  • The lens is removed through an incision made in the outer shell of the eye called the cornea. The lens is either broken into pieces and removed or taken out in its entirety.

The Posterior Capsule

  • The posterior capsule is the membrane that surrounds the lens. This membrane is usually left in place to accommodate the new lens, but is sometimes removed to prevent the membrane itself from becoming cloudy and interfering with vision.

Secondary Cataracts

  • If the posterior capsule or any remaining fragments of the lens become cloudy and interfere with vision, this is referred to as a secondary cataract.


  • According to the Mayo Clinic, your vision should improve within days. You may feel some itchiness or discomfort, but it's important to avoid rubbing your effected eye. A full recovery is expected after eight weeks.

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