Patients selected for cataract surgery have an increasingly wider range of coexisting ocular and systemic diseases. The aim of this study was to determine whether preoperative patient characteristics can assist surgeons in identifying patients who are at increased risk of having little or no improvement in visual outcome after cataract surgery.
We prospectively studied a randomly selected subset (20%) of patients with cataract undergoing cataract extraction at a tertiary centre in Vancouver. There were no patient exclusion criteria. Pre-, intra- and postoperative clinical data were collected from medical records.
We studied 1329 cataract surgical procedures from March 1999 to December 2000. Of the 1329, 851 had complete pre- and postoperative visual acuity data. The mean age of the 851 patients was 73.2 (standard deviation 10.6) years, 575 (67.6%) were women, and 472 procedures (55.5%) were first-eye procedures. Preoperatively, the best-corrected visual acuity was 20/40 or better in 146 eyes (17.2%), 20/50 in 173 (20.3%), 20/60 to 20/70 in 248 (29.1%), and 20/80 or worse in 284 (33.4%). Almost half of the patients (419 [49.2%]) had at least one coexisting eye disease in the operated eye. At about 3 months postoperatively, the best-corrected visual acuity had improved in 786 eyes (92.4%), remained the same in 42 (4.9%) and had worsened in 23 (2.7%). Of the 23 eyes with worse visual acuity, half had preoperative visual acuity of 20/40 or better; most of the remaining eyes had preoperative vision of 20/50 to 20/70. Of the 42 eyes with unchanged vision, 22 (52%) had preoperative visual acuity worse than 20/100; the remaining eyes were distributed across the visual acuity range. An increase of 1 year of age increased the odds of having a poor visual acuity outcome by 2% to 4%. Worse preoperative visual acuity predicted an increased likelihood of a poor outcome; this effect increased sharply for eyes with preoperative visual acuity of 20/80 or worse. After adjustment for age and preoperative visual acuity, patients with three or more coexisting eye diseases in the operated eye were 10 to 24 times more likely to have the worst postoperative visual acuity.
The presence and number of coexisting ocular diseases, increased age and poor preoperative visual acuity predicted an unchanged or worse visual acuity after cataract surgery.