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The evolution of cataract surgery

The evolution of cataract surgery

Cataract has plagued human vision since times immemorial. The earliest mention of cataract surgery can be found around 800 B.C in the laws of Babylon which laid down the rules for eye surgeries performed during those times. Fast forward to few centuries later, cataract surgeries started being actively practised around the world through a method call ‘couching’ which was conducted by breaking the zonules with a blunt object and pushing the natural lens at the rear of the eye; leading to improved but unfocussed vision. Since then, we have made huge advances in the procedure and arrived at the modern form of cataract surgery that uses accurate calculations to restore the eye’s refractive capabilities within a matter of 10-15 minutes. Today, these techniques are being practised in the best eye hospitals around the world.

Here is how the evolution took place:-

Cataract Extraction

For the first time in 1748, the broken cataract lens was actually removed by Jacques Daniel. Since then, there were huge improvements in lens removal techniques by various surgeons and invention of different tools to remove the lens with greater accuracy. However, the eyes refractive capability still suffered due to absence of lens and patients could not focus clearly.

Intraocular lens (IOL)

Invention of IOL was a significant step in how cataract surgery is performed today. Harold Ridley planted the first IOL in 1949 which was a long lasting plastic lens that could improve the eye’s refraction potential. Years later, the rigid IOL was replaced by foldable IOL for the ease of surgery. Today, the best eye hospitals use this form intraocular lens for surgeries.


Till 1967 a cataract surgery needed an incision of 10mm-12mm in the eye and was done by use of Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE) technique. Since the incision was big enough, the surgery involved stitching and the patient took a long time to recover. Phacoemulsification in 1967 came forward as a milestone achievement towards this end. Phaco was a sutureless surgery performed by making 2mm- 3mm incision in the eye and promoted faster recovery. It was only after Phaco was innovated that foldable IOL was invented by Tom Mazzocco and this marked the onset on a new revolution. Since then, there has been commendable development in building techniques and tools to make the refractive lens extremely precise to eliminate all kinds of refractive errors and helping patients regain normal vision. If you are due for a cataract surgery and in lookout for the best eye hospital in Delhi NCR, MM Eyetech is the best place to visit. Check more about them at or contact at 91-11-29847900.

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