Prevalence of visually significant cataract and factors associated with unmet need for cataract surgery: Los Angeles Latino Eye Study

Ophthalmology. 2009 Dec;116(12):2327-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2009.05.040. Epub 2009 Oct 7.


Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of visually significant cataract in a US Latino population and to report predisposing, enabling, need, and health behavior characteristics associated with the unmet need for cataract surgery (UNCS).

Design: Population-based, cross-sectional study.

Participants: A total of 6142 Latinos 40 years and older from 6 census tracts in Los Angeles County, California.

Methods: Participants completed an in-home interview and a comprehensive eye examination that included assessment of lens opacification, using the slit lamp-based Lens Opacities Classification System II (LOCS II), and best-corrected visual acuity. Visually significant cataract was defined by any LOCS II grading >or=2, best-corrected visual acuity <20/40, cataract as the primary cause of vision impairment, and self-reported vision of fair or worse. Because cataract surgery is not needed in all persons, participants with a visually significant cataract or prior cataract surgery in at least 1 eye composed the at-risk cohort needing cataract surgery. Unmet need for cataract surgery was defined as any person in the at-risk cohort who had at least 1 eye with a visually significant cataract. Univariate and stepwise logistic regression analyses were used to identify predisposing, enabling, need, and health behavior characteristics associated with UNCS.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence of visually significant cataract and odds ratios (ORs) for factors associated with UNCS.

Results: Of 6142 participants who completed the interview and clinical examination, 118 (1.92%) had visually significant cataract in at least 1 eye. Of the 344 participants who have needed cataract surgery, 118 (34.3%) had UNCS. Independent factors associated with UNCS included health behavior: having last eye examination >or=5 years ago compared with <1 year ago (OR, 3.76; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.71-8.25), and enabling factors: being uninsured (OR, 2.79; CI, 1.30-5.19), income less than $20,000 (OR, 2.60; CI, 1.40-5.56), and self-reported barriers to eye care (OR, 2.41; CI, 1.14-5.13).

Conclusions: Latinos in our study had a substantial UNCS. Because Latinos with specific health behavior and enabling characteristics were more likely to have UNCS, interventions aimed at modifying these characteristics may be beneficial in reducing the unmet need and thus reducing the burden of visual impairment related to cataract in the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cataract / classification
  • Cataract / ethnology*
  • Cataract Extraction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hispanic or Latino / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Visually Impaired Persons / statistics & numerical data*