Reading performance depending on the type of cataract and its predictability on the visual outcome

J Cataract Refract Surg. 2004 Jun;30(6):1259-67. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2003.11.051.


Purpose: To investigate the influence of various types of cataract on reading performance in a standardized reading test setting.

Setting: Department of Ophthalmology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Methods: The reading performance of 94 eyes with age-related cataract and normal macular function was evaluated with the Radner Reading Charts preoperatively and 4 weeks after cataract surgery. Distance visual acuity was tested with the ETDRS charts. Cataracts were graded using the Lens Opacities Classification System (LOCS) III, on which NO is nuclear opalescence and NC is nuclear color.

Results: Patients with pure nuclear cataracts (LOCS III: NO/NC 2.1-5) achieved a normally high MRS (99.84% +/- 7.65% of their postoperative MRS): preoperative MRS(1): 190.6 +/- 30.74 words per minute (wpm); postoperative MRS(2): 191.21 +/- 29.36 wpm. Patients with mixed nuclear-cortical cataracts (LOCS III: NO/NC 2.1-5; C>2) preoperatively achieved 96.96% +/- 5.6% of their postoperative MRS (MRS(1): 175.77 +/- 31.54 wpm; MRS(2): 181.34 +/- 30.56 wpm). In dense nuclear cataracts (LOCS III: NO/NC>5), the MRS was significantly reduced, achieving only 72.64 +/- 19.19% of the postoperative MRS (MRS(1): 133.06 +/- 39.43 wpm; MRS(2): 185.76 +/- 40.18 wpm). In posterior subcapsular cataracts, the preoperative MRS (134.1 +/- 33.72 wpm) was significantly lower than postoperatively (191.14 +/- 27.08 wpm).

Conclusions: In contrast to dense nuclear cataracts and posterior subcapsular cataracts, the preoperative reading speed of patients with pure nuclear or nuclear-cortical cataracts was normal at large print sizes. The preoperative evaluation of reading acuity and speed with standardized reading tests can therefore be used to estimate the postoperative reading performance in the latter 2 types of cataract.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cataract / classification
  • Cataract / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Phacoemulsification
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reading*
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology
  • Vision Tests / instrumentation
  • Visual Acuity