Complications in infants undergoing surgery for congenital cataract in the first 12 weeks of life: is early surgery better?

J AAPOS. 2003 Apr;7(2):81-5. doi: 10.1016/mpa.2003.S1091853102420095.


Purpose: To determine if there is an association between the timing of surgical intervention for congenital cataract within the first 12 weeks of life and the prevalence of postoperative complications.

Methods: We performed a retrospective review of records from 1990 to 2000 of infants who underwent surgery for congenital cataract within the first 12 weeks of life. Eighty eyes in 55 children were involved with a minimum follow up of 6 months. Bilateral cataracts were present in 25 and monocular cataracts in 30 infants. A limbal approach lensectomy-vitrectomy was performed in all infants. Children with aphakia were rehabilitated with contact lens or glasses. Operative and postoperative complications-including glaucoma, nystagmus, strabismus, retinal detachment, and posterior capsule opacification/secondary membranes-were recorded. Ocular and systemic associations were noted. Statistical analysis was carried out with classification and regression trees (CART).

Results: The mean age at the time of surgery was 31.5 +/- 23.3 days (median, 26.5; range, 2 to 84). Mean follow up from the time of surgery was 2.85 +/-1.9 years (median, 2; range, 0.5 to 8). Persistent fetal vasculature (persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous) was present in 14 eyes. One infant with bilateral persistent fetal vasculature had bilateral retinal dysplasia and was excluded from the analysis. Glaucoma developed in 12 infants (22%); nystagmus was present in 18 infants (33%); strabismus developed in 28 infants (52%); and secondary membranes developed in 7 eyes (13%). CART analysis suggests that glaucoma is more prevalent in infants when the surgery was performed between 13.5 and 43 days of life (CART = 0.370); nystagmus when surgery is performed between 48 and 84 days of life (CART = 0.500); strabismus when surgery is performed between 55.5 and 84 days of life (CART = 0.600); and secondary membranes when surgery is performed between 26.5 and 40 days of life (CART = 0.4).

Conclusions: Our data suggest that the first 2 weeks of life comprise the most favorable time for decreasing postoperative complications resulting from surgical intervention for infants presenting with cataracts within the first 12 weeks of life.

MeSH terms

  • Cataract / complications
  • Cataract / congenital*
  • Cataract Extraction / adverse effects*
  • Epiretinal Membrane / epidemiology
  • Epiretinal Membrane / etiology
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / epidemiology
  • Glaucoma / etiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic / epidemiology
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic / etiology
  • Persistent Fetal Circulation Syndrome / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Strabismus / epidemiology
  • Strabismus / etiology
  • Time Factors