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Definition

Extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) is a type of eye surgery in which the lens of the eyes are removed, leaving the elastic capsule covering the lens which is left partially attached to allow the implantation of an intraocular lens (IOL).

Purpose

The main purpose of ECCE is to restore clear vision by removing the clouded and discolored lens and replacing it with an IOL. Cataract operations are some of the oldest recorded surgical processes dating back to 1750 B.C.

It is a cataract surgery that involves removing the eye’s natural lens while leaving the back of the capsule which holds the lens in place. This process requires a much smaller incision as compared to the older process called Intracapsular Cataract Extraction. A modified version of Extracapsular Cataract Extraction is called Phacoemulsification and uses an even smaller incision which requires no sutures at all.

The natural lens become cloudy, usually due to the aging process. This cloudy lens is called a cataract. The main objective of modern cataract surgery is to remove this hazy lens and replace it with a tiny plastic prescription lens that will be permanently implanted in your eye.

Extracapsular Cataract Extraction

Extracapsular Cataract Extraction is a method of cataract surgery that involves removing the eye’s natural lenses while leaving the back of the capsule that holds the lens in place. This procedure requires a much smaller incision than the older process called Intracapsular Cataract Extraction in which the lens and the entire capsule were removed.

In this procedure, the surgeon makes a tiny incision in the white of the eye near the outer edges of the cornea. The size of this depends on whether the lens of the nucleus is to be removed all in one piece or whether it will be dissolved into tiny pieces and then vacuumed out. The surgeon then enters the eye through this incision and carefully opens the front of the capsule that holds the lens in place. After the nucleus or hard center is removed, you may need sutures if your cataract was removed in one piece. If the phacoemulsification technique is employed, sutures are usually not required to close the incision.

Demographics

  • Cataract extraction is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in industrialized countries. Around 300,000-400,000 cases of disabling cataracts occur annually in the USA alone. 1 to 1.5 million cataract extractions are performed annually in the United States.
  • Estimates by the WHO in 1997 state that cataracts are responsible for 50% of the cases of blindness globally. This figure is expected to rise to 50 million by 2020. 1.2% of the population in Africa is blind of which cataracts are responsible for 36% of such cases.
  • About one person in every 50 of the American population will eventually have to have a cataract removed. Rates of cataract formation varies from group to group though. 50% of people over the age of 60 have some degree of cataract formation, with the figure rising to 100% for those aged 80 and above.

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