Poor uptake of cataract surgery in nursing home residents: the Salisbury Eye Evaluation in Nursing Home Groups study

Arch Ophthalmol. 2005 Nov;123(11):1581-7. doi: 10.1001/archopht.123.11.1581.


Objective: To compare the uptake of cataract surgery in nursing homes in which assistance was provided in obtaining services with that in control homes.

Methods: The Salisbury Eye Evaluation in Nursing Home Groups (SEEING) project is a randomized clinical trial studying the effect of a comprehensive vision restoration-rehabilitation program, including the provision of cataract surgery services when needed. Twenty-eight nursing homes in the Eastern Shore area of Maryland and Delaware were matched in pairs by size and payment type. Nursing homes within each pair were randomized to usual care or targeted intervention. Persons with cataract causing visual acuity in the better eye to be worse than 20/40 were informed of the possible benefit of cataract surgery. For those in intervention homes, additional support was provided in obtaining cataract surgery.

Results: Of residents with vision-impairing cataract in intervention homes, 31% underwent cataract surgery vs 2% in usual-care facilities. Residents with cataract compared with all residents without visual impairment, regardless of nursing home assignment, tended to be older (mean age, 86.7 vs 82.1 years; P<.001), were more likely to be black (age-adjusted P<.001), had lower Mini-Mental State Examination scores (mean, 11.7 vs 16.2; age-adjusted P<.001), and longer length of stay (mean, 42.3 vs 24.4 months; P<.001). Furthermore, cataract was associated with significant visual impairment and with functional limitations, with 20% of those recommended for surgery having a visual acuity of 20/100 or worse in the better-seeing eye.

Conclusions: Screening for and identifying cataracts as a cause of vision loss rarely results in uptake of cataract surgery services in nursing homes. The addition of a support system to facilitate the process of scheduling surgery and getting to and from the hospital dramatically increases uptake rates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cataract / complications
  • Cataract / rehabilitation*
  • Cataract Extraction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Delaware / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services for the Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homes for the Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Maryland / epidemiology
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vision Disorders / ethnology
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visually Impaired Persons / rehabilitation*