A cataract that is swollen with cortical material and often envelops a hard nucleus floating within the capsular bag is described as intumescent. This type of cataract presents specific challenges during phacoemulsification cataract surgery. Intumescent cataracts have weak zonular fibers and fragile capsules. Because intumescence creates positive pressure in the capsular bag, the initial incision in the capsule may extend peripherally (Video 12-3; also see the sidebar).
Intumescent mature cataract. Courtesy of Virgilio Centurion, MD, and Juan Carlos Caballero, MD.
Excerpted from BCSC 2020-2021 series: Section 11 - Lens and Cataract. For more information and to purchase the entire series, please visit https://www.aao.org/bcsc.