by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Animation Movie Available Related Media: Cataract Surgery

The only way to cure cataracts is through surgery. It is done when cataracts make it hard for a person to see.

Cataract surgery removes the cloudy lens of the eye and replaces it with an artificial one called an intraocular lens (IOL). This is a clear or yellow-tinted artificial lens that stays in the eye.

Surgery may be done in one of two ways:

  • Phacoemulsification—A tiny probe is put in the eye. It sends out ultrasound waves that break the cloudy lens into small pieces. The pieces are taken out with suction. Most people do not need stitches. This is the most common surgery.
  • Extracapsular surgery—A cut is made in the eye. The hard center of the lens is removed. The rest of the lens may be taken out by suction. Or the back part of the lens may be left so the artificial lens has a place to rest. Stitches will be needed. This method is not as common because it can result in side effects.


Cataract. American Optometric Association website. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2022.

Cataracts. National Eye Institute website. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2022.

Cataracts in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2022.

What are cataracts? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2022.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review BoardJames P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 11/2021
  • Update Date: 05/02/2022