A method for using an ophthalmic laser system to remove cataractous tissue from the lens capsule of an eye requires phacofragmentation of the lens tissue and subsequent aspiration of the treated tissue. More specifically, a cutting laser is used to create various strata of incisions through the lens tissue. Within each stratum, each incision is made in the direction from a posterior to an anterior position. The strata are stacked on each other in the posterior-anterior direction, and each includes a plurality of minute incisions. The most posterior stratum of incisions is created first by referencing the cutting laser back into the lens tissue from the posterior capsule. Subsequent, more anterior strata, are created by referencing the cutting layer from the tissue treated by the previous stratum of incisions. In each stratum, the vapors which result from the incisions are allowed to infiltrate between the layers of the lens tissue to fragment and liquify the tissue. The liquified lens tissue is then aspirated.