Types of Cataract Treatment

Fri Dec 01 2023

Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects millions of people around the globe, especially when they age above 60. The eye’s natural lens becomes clouded, leading to blurred vision and, in some cases, total blindness. But since every eye is different and needs an accurate correction procedure depending upon its condition, different types of cataract treatment are designed to cater them.

In this blog, we will discuss five different kinds of cataract surgery, that are Phacoemulsification (Phaco Surgery), Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE), Intracapsular Cataract Extraction (ICCE), Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (LACS), and Lens Replacement Surgery with Intraocular Lens (IOL) implants. But before we delve deep into it, let’s understand why there is a need for cataract surgery.

Why do you need cataract surgery?

Vision is one of the important senses and when it gets damaged, then carrying out even the easiest of daily activities becomes challenging. Cataract does the same – it causes gradual worsening of the vision and may eventually lead to blindness. Therefore, as per the eye condition of the individual, the best-suited among the different types of cataract treatment becomes necessary to perform and restore clear vision to improve the quality of life.

5 Major Kinds of Surgical Cataract Treatments

There are majorly five types of cataracts treatment. Each one is developed to cater different eye conditions and are distinct from each other in multiple aspects. Let’s learn about each of them.

  1. Intracapsular Cataract Extraction (ICCE)

Intracapsular Cataract Extraction (ICCE) is an older surgical method among all the different kinds of cataract surgery. It involves the removal of both the cataract-affected lens and the surrounding capsule. This procedure is rarely performed today, as it is associated with a higher risk of complications and has been largely replaced by modern techniques like Phacoemulsification.

Procedure:

  • A larger incision is made in the eye.
  • The entire natural lens and its surrounding capsule are removed.
  • No artificial IOL is implanted in the eye.
  • Glasses or contact lenses are needed for vision correction post-surgery.

Advantages of ICCE:

  • No artificial IOL implantation required.

Disadvantages of ICCE:

  • Rarely used today due to better alternatives.
  • Risk of complications, including retinal detachment and astigmatism.
  • Poor visual outcomes without IOL implantation.
  1. Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE)

One of the other types of cataract treatment is Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE). It is an older and less common method for cataract removal, but still performed in cases where Phaco Surgery is not suitable or when dealing with very advanced cataracts.

Procedure:

  • ECCE involves making a larger incision in the cornea, typically about 10-12mm in size.
  • The cataract-affected lens is removed as a whole.
  • A rigid IOL is inserted into the eye to replace the natural lens.
  • Sutures are required to close the larger incision.

Advantages of ECCE:

  • Suitable for advanced cataracts.
  • Allows the surgeon to remove the cataract in one piece.
  • Effective in cases with other eye complications.

Disadvantages of ECCE:

  • Larger incision leads to longer recovery time. 
  • Increased risk of complications.
  • More discomfort.
  1. Phacoemulsification (Phaco Surgery)

Phacoemulsification, commonly referred to as “Phaco Surgery,” is the most common and widely used cataract removal procedure. This type of cataract treatment involves a minimally invasive surgery that offers numerous benefits, including faster recovery and reduced risk of complications.

Procedure:

  • At first, a tiny incision is made in the cornea.
  • The surgeon then inserts a small probe that uses high-frequency ultrasound waves to break up the cataract-affected lens into tiny fragments.
  • These fragments are then removed through suction.
  • A folded IOL is inserted through the same incision and unfolded to replace the cloudy natural lens.
  • The small incision usually doesn’t require sutures, as it self-seals.

Advantages of Phaco Surgery:

  • Minimally invasive.
  • Quick recovery time.
  • Reduced risk of complications 
  • Minimal discomfort.
  • High success rate in restoring clear vision.
  • Improved visual outcomes.
  1. Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (LACS)

Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (LACS) is a more recent and innovative approach to cataract removal. This technique combines the precision of lasers with the benefits of Phaco Surgery, offering improved accuracy and safety.

Procedure:

  • A femtosecond laser is used to create precise incisions.
  • Cataract-affected lens is softened.
  • The softened lens is then removed using Phacoemulsification.
  • An IOL is inserted, just like in Phaco Surgery.

Advantages of LACS:

  • Improved precision and safety.
  • Reduced risk of complications.
  • Enhanced visual outcomes and quicker recovery.

Disadvantages of LACS:

  • Higher cost compared to traditional Phaco Surgery.
  • Not widely available in all eye care centers.
  1. Refractive Lens Exchange with Intraocular Lens Implants

In cases where the natural lens cannot be preserved or when a cataract is combined with refractive errors like myopia or hyperopia, Refractive Lens Exchange with IOL implants is a common choice among all the available types of cataract treatment. There are different types of Intraocular lens, such as monofocal, multifocal, and toric, depending on the patient’s needs.

Procedure:

  • A small incision is made in the cornea.
  • The cataract-affected lens is removed using Phacoemulsification.
  • An IOL is implanted in its place to correct vision and replace the natural lens.

Advantages of Refractive Lens Exchange:

  • Corrects refractive errors in addition to cataracts.
  • Reduced dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
  • Versatile IOL options tailored to individual needs.

Disadvantages of Refractive Lens Exchange:

  • It is a more invasive procedure.
  • It may require post-treatment after the procedure.
  • RLE is a costly procedure.

Conclusion

Cataracts can significantly impact an individual quality of life by causing blurred vision and discomfort. Fortunately, there are different types of cataract treatment options available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. But, the choice of cataract treatment method depends on individual factors, including the severity of the cataract, the patient’s overall eye health, and personal preferences; though you have to follow certain precautions after the cataract surgery.

Centre For Sight has the best team of eye care specialists, essential to determine the most suitable treatment option, ensuring a clearer and brighter future for those affected by cataracts. The best part is we are the only eye care center in North India to have the best possible solution for all eye ailments, such as ICL Surgery, Contoura Vision, Refractive Errors, etc.

Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses for Cataracts

Eyeglasses and contact lenses are not a treatment for cataracts. Cataracts are typically addressed through cataract surgery, during which the cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The IOL can be chosen to address refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, but the primary goal of cataract surgery is to restore clear vision. Before surgery, your eye doctor may prescribe glasses or contact lenses to improve your vision temporarily. These are not cures for cataracts but aids for managing the condition until surgery is considered. Consult with an eye care professional for guidance on your specific situation and potential IOL options.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the major types of cataract surgery?

There are majorly five types of cataract surgery, such as are Phacoemulsification (Phaco Surgery), Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE), Intracapsular Cataract Extraction (ICCE), Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (LACS), and Refractive Lens Exchange with Intraocular Lens (IOL) implants.

  1. How do I know which type of cataract treatment is right for me?

To determine the right cataract treatment, you need to consult an eye specialist who will examine your eye health, cataract severity, and your preferences. Based on it, they’ll recommend the best-suited one.

  1. What is the recovery time for different cataract treatments?

The recovery time for different cataract treatments varies, like in phacoemulsification, it is relatively quick, often just a few days. However, extracapsular cataract extraction may require a longer recovery, typically a few weeks, due to the larger incision.

  1. Are there any risks associated with cataract surgery or other treatments?

Yes, cataract surgery and treatments carry some risks, including infection, bleeding, and swelling. However, these complications are relatively rare. Consult with your eye specialist for a detailed discussion of the risks associated with your specific treatment.

  1. What is the success rate of different cataract treatment methods?

The success rate of cataract treatment methods is very high, with over 95%. Your specific outcome may vary depending on various factors and the expertise of the surgeon.

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