Purpose: Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are now being implanted in infants and children with unilateral cataracts. However, there are no prospective data on the development of visual acuity after implantation. The aim of the present study was to prospectively assess the development of acuity in infants and preschool children who received IOLs or aphakic contacts lenses (CLs) after the extraction of a unilateral cataract.
Methods: Visual acuity was assessed using Teller Acuity Cards and/or crowded HOTV tests at target ages of 6 months, 1, 2, 3, and 4 years.
Results: Infants who received a primary IOL after extraction of dense congenital unilateral cataract (n = 5) showed improvement from an initially low mean visual acuity of 20/170 at 6 months to 20/85 at 12 months and 20/54 at 4 years. Visual acuity in the IOL group was similar to that of children who had good-to-excellent compliance with CL wear (n = 36; 4-year visual acuity 20/50) and better than that of children who had moderate-to-poor compliance (n = 11; 4-year visual acuity 20/135). Children who received IOLs after extraction of developmental unilateral cataracts by 6 months (n = 4; 4-year visual acuity 20/55) had visual acuity development similar to those treated with CLs (n = 5; 4-year visual acuity 20/55). Children who received IOLs after extraction of developmental unilateral cataracts after 1 year of age (n = 18) had better visual acuity than children those treated with CLs (n = 4) at 4 years of age (20/40 vs. 20/135).
Conclusion: IOLs and aphakic CLs support similar visual acuity development after surgery for a unilateral cataract. IOLs may support better visual acuity development when compliance with CL wear is moderate to poor or when a cataract is extracted after 1 year of age.