Originally, the open poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) capsular tension ring (CTR) was designed to compensate for zonular defects or to stretch the posterior capsule in highly myopic eyes not receiving an intraocular lens (IOL). We address the variety of subsequent designs, applications, and techniques that have evolved. With pre-existing or intraoperative zonular defects, a standard CTR may be inserted before or at any time during cataract removal to maintain or re-establish an extended capsular diaphragm. For profound zonular dialysis or weakness, a CTR was designed for scleral fixation. Capsular tension rings with integrated tinted sector shields have been developed to compensate for sector iris colobomas or aniridia. The CTR has also been used as a measuring gauge for in vivo quantification of capsule dimensions and postoperative capsular shrinkage. The CTR has improved control during primary posterior capsulorhexis and prevented oval distortion along the lens axis postoperatively. During combined cataract and vitreous surgery, a CTR prevents capsule damage and provides undisturbed peripheral visualization before IOL implantation. Capsular tension rings may also influence capsule opacification formation. A special band-shaped CTR with sharp edges was developed to inhibit lens epithelial cell migration and avoid capsulorhexis-optic contact.