Two main types of surgical procedures are in common use throughout the world. The first procedure is phacoemulsification (phaco) and the second involves two different types of extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE). In most surgeries an intraocular lens is inserted. Foldable lenses are generally used for the 2-3mm phaco incision, while non-foldable lenses are placed through the larger extracapsular incision. The small incision size used in phacoemulsification (2-3mm) often allows “sutureless” incision closure. ECCE utilises a larger incision (10-12mm) and therefore usually requires stitching, and this in part led to the modification of ECCE known as manual small incision cataract surgery (MSICS).
Phacoemulsification is the most commonly performed cataract procedure in the developed world. However, the high cost of a phacoemulsification machine and of the associated disposable equipment means that ECCE and MSICS remain the most commonly performed procedure in developing countries.