Objective: To evaluate visual acuity outcomes after cataract surgery in patients with varying degrees of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Design: Cohort study.
Participants: A total of 4757 participants enrolled in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), a prospective, multicenter, epidemiological study of the clinical course of cataract and AMD and a randomized controlled trial of antioxidants and minerals.
Methods: Standardized lens and fundus photographs, performed at baseline and annual visits, were graded by a centralized reading center using standardized protocols for severity of AMD and lens opacities. History of cataract surgery was obtained every 6 months. Analyses were conducted using multivariate logistic regression.
Main outcome measure: The change in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) after cataract surgery compared with preoperative BCVA.
Results: Visual acuity results were analyzed for 1939 eyes that had cataract surgery during AREDS. The mean time from cataract surgery to measurement of postoperative BCVA was 6.9 months. After adjustment for age at surgery, gender, type, and severity of cataract, the mean change in visual acuity at the next study visit after the cataract surgery was as follows: Eyes without AMD gained 8.4 letters of acuity (P<0.0001), eyes with mild AMD gained 6.1 letters of visual acuity (P<0.0001), eyes with moderate AMD gained 3.9 letters (P<0.0001), and eyes with advanced AMD gained 1.9 letters (P = 0.04). The statistically significant gain in visual acuity after cataract surgery was maintained an average of 1.4 years after cataract surgery.
Conclusions: On average, participants with varying severity of AMD benefited from cataract surgery with an increase in visual acuity postoperatively. This average gain in visual acuity persisted for at least 18 months.