What is Phacoemulsification Surgery? A Quick guide to Phaco Surgery

20 March 2023

By Author: Amir Hamid

Phacoemulsification (also known as Phaco surgery) is actually a step in the overall cataract surgery procedure.

Phacoemulsification, also known as Phaco, is a surgical procedure used to remove cataracts, a clouding of the lens in the eye that can cause blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty seeing at night.

This procedure is considered one of the safest and most effective treatments for cataracts and is commonly performed worldwide.

Step-by-step Phaco Surgery Procedure:

Anaesthetic: The patient is given a local anaesthetic to numb the eye and reduce any pain or discomfort during the procedure. Sedatives may also be administered to help the patient relax.

Incision: A tiny  incision is made in the cornea, the clear front part of the eye.

Capsulotomy: A circular opening is made in the lens capsule, which is a thin membrane that surrounds the lens.

Phacoemulsification: A small probe is inserted through the incision and into the lens. The probe emits high-frequency ultrasound waves that break up the cloudy lens into small pieces, which are then suctioned out of the eye.

IOL Implant: Once the cloudy lens has been removed, an artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens (IOL), is inserted into the same lens capsule that held the natural lens.

Closure: The technique performed means that the incision created is self-sealing.

The entire procedure typically takes approximately 8 minutes to complete and is performed on an outpatient basis, which means the patient can go home the same day.


Phaco surgery is extremely safe and effective
Laser eye surgery microscope

Safety and Recovery from Phaco Surgery

Phacoemulsification is a safe and minimally invasive procedure with a low risk of complications. However, like any surgical procedure, there are some risks, including infection, bleeding, and damage to the cornea or other parts of the eye. These risks are relatively low, with infection rates estimated at less than 1%, and most complications are minor and can be treated effectively.

Patients typically experience little to some discomfort during the procedure and may also experience mild discomfort or irritation afterward. Recovery time is relatively short, and patients can usually return to their normal activities within a few days. However, they will need to use eye drops for a few weeks to reduce inflammation and prevent infection.


Before the procedure, patients will need to undergo a comprehensive eye exam to determine the extent of the cataract and to assess the overall health of the eye.

Success Rates:

Phacoemulsification has a very high success rate, more than  95% of patients experiencing improved vision after the procedure.

Phacoemulsification recovery tips

Phacoemulsifiaction surgery  or more commonly known as  cataract surgery is a safe and routine procedure which will help

Here are some important pieces of advice when recovering post-surgery:

  1. Follow the prescribed medication regimen: Your surgeon will prescribe medicated eye drops or ointments to help prevent infection and reduce inflammation. Be sure to use them exactly as directed and on the schedule provided by your surgeon.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes: Do not touch or rub your eyes, as this can increase the risk of infection and slow down the healing process.
  3. Protect your eyes: Wear sunglasses or a protective shield to prevent accidental contact with your eyes. Your surgeon may provide you with a shield to use while sleeping or during the day.
  4. Avoid strenuous activities: Do not engage in any strenuous activities, such as heavy lifting or exercise, for at least a week after surgery, as this can increase the risk of bleeding and other complications.
  5. Avoid water exposure: Avoid swimming or getting water in your eyes for at least two weeks after surgery, as this can increase the risk of infection.
  6. Attend follow-up appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon to ensure that your eyes are healing properly and to address any concerns or complications that may arise.
  7. Rest and relax: Give yourself plenty of time to rest and recover after surgery. Avoid reading, watching TV, or using a computer for extended periods of time, as this can strain your eyes and slow down the healing process.

By following these tips and your surgeon’s instructions, you can ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery after phacoemulsification surgery and achieve the best possible outcome for your vision.


Amir Hamid Headshot

By Author: Amir Hamid

Mr. Amir Hamid is a Clinical Lead for Vision Correction and an expert refractive surgeon, based in London.

Medically Reviewed Date: 16th August 2023


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