How important is Capsule Polishing in Cataract Surgery?

lens debris on capsule 173 title

In modern day cataract surgery, we remove the lens material which keeping the capsular bag to hold the IOL. How important is it to fully polish the capsule, particularly the undersurface of the anterior capsular rim in order to give our patients the best outcomes? And is there an additional risk involved in doing this maneuver? Will the routine post-operative inflammatory process help remove these tiny bits of micro-debris? Should all surgeons do this or just the more advanced ones?

These are all great questions and there is no definitive answer. A widely cited study (J Cataract Refract Surg. 2010 Feb;36(2):208-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2009.08.020.) concluded that:

Anterior capsule polishing, although it removed many LECs (lens epithelial cells), did not decrease residual cell growth and, conversely, enhanced cell proliferation in capsular bag cultures. This might explain why polishing does not reduce PCO (posterior capsule opacification) in clinical studies.

Another study (Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015; 8(8): 13769–13775.) determined that the effective lens position (ELP) was not any different between polished versus not, but then postulated that there may be an “improved axial position stability of the IOL in the long term.”

In the case presented here, we use the irrigation / aspiration probe to remove the majority of the micro-debris from the undersurface of the anterior capsular rim. However, there is an area that is difficult to access using the coaxial probe so that is left alone. Use of a bimanual irrigation / aspiration set-up would allow full 360 degree access but would necessitate making a third incision in the eye. The red reflex in the video is also heavily enhanced in order to improve visualization of the micro-debris. With typical microscope settings, it would be much more difficult to see.

The best advice is for you to do what is best in your hands. Polishing the capsule must be done carefully because if we damage the capsule or break zonular attachments, then the net result is worse than leaving a lot of micro-debris. What is your opinion?

Click below to see capsule polishing (forward to 2:45) in this cataract surgery:

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  1. Eyes with anterior capsular polishing have significantly less inflammation. There is no capsular phimosis in these eyes. For Toric lenses consider leaving cells in the area of the haptecs especially with Technis lenses this can prevent post-op rotation. Polishing takes about 2 minutes. In my hands I have never caused capsular damage because I use a sweeper and 27 Gage cannulas on a bss syringe if you pollish with the IA there is some riskof capsular damage you also run alot more fluid throu the eye causing possible endothelial cell loss.

    1. excellent input — thank you! Please submit a video of your technique so that our readers can learn!

  2. Dr Uday if we can polish equator definitely it should reduce pco while anterior polish i feel reduce phemosis. i use to rotate iol in the bag which is easy with hydrophilic iol and some hydrophobic iol as the chance pco is more in hydrophilic i think i will help though i have not done any study

  3. i’am sorry but theres no such a thing as “best techniques of Cataract Surgery to Eye Surgeons”, every sugeron has it own…..

    1. Yes, we agree. That is why we are asking for your input and opinion! Please tell us your technique so we can learn. Thank you

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