Phacofragmentation is a surgical technique for lens removal used in refractive and cataract surgery. This technique involves the manual surgical removal of the crystalline lens nucleus and removal of lens pieces through a 4-5 mm surgical opening. Phacofragmentation is an operation technique used in special circumstances where the nucleus of the crystalline lens is determined to be very hard and another technique (phacoemulsification) might be problematic.
A cataract is opacity or clouding of the lens within the eye. The lens' function is to focus light rays on the retina, and cataracts decrease vision by interfering with light reaching the retina. Advanced cataracts are a leading cause of blindness in dogs and are generally recognizable by pet owners as a decrease in the dog's vision or by a cloudy, whitish-blue appearance to the eye. Cataracts must be distinguished from a normal aging change in the lens termed "lenticular sclerosis," which causes a bluish appearance to the eye but generally does not interfere with vision.
Currently, the only effective treatment for cataracts is through surgical removal of the defective lens. Lens removal is done under general anesthesia by making an incision in the eye and using special equipment to ultrasonically fragment and remove the diseased lens material. In most cases, an artificial intraocular lens is implanted to replace the diseased lens.