Utah Valley Regional Medical Center recently purchased an $80,000 machine that will give people a new option in cataract surgery.

UVRMC's new phacoemulsification machine can vaporize the hard central part of a cataract with sound waves, allowing an ophthalmologist to remove the cataract through an incision less than one-eighth of an inch long.Dr. Larry Noble, head of the hospital's Ophthalmology Department, said the tip (made of titanium) of the new machine vibrates at 30,000 cycles per second, dissolving the cataract and suctioning it out.

Following that procedure, a lens implant is inserted through the opening. The implant is designed especially to fit the patient's eye and contains an ultraviolet filter that will protect the eye from the sun's dangerous rays.

In the 1970s implants became popular and many modern surgeons started removing the cataract through a small incision with suction. This procedure is called the extra-capsular technique. This procedure eliminated many restrictions and allowed patients to have surgery without lengthy hospitalization.

In most cases both the extra-capsular and the new phacoemulsification can be done in the hospital's same-day surgery area. With phacoemulsification the patient can be active the day following surgery and can engage in most activities except swimming, horseback riding, jogging or lifting anything weighing more than 30 pounds for about three weeks.

Dr. Paul Olson, an ophthalmologist who recently relocated his practice to Provo, had been using the procedure in California for the past six years.