Purpose: To identify variables related to time spent on a waiting list for cataract extraction and the effect of waiting time on some outcomes.
Setting: Twelve ophthalmology units throughout Spain.
Design: Cohort study.
Methods: This study included consecutive patients scheduled to have cataract removal by phacoemulsification. Sociodemographic and clinical data, including visual acuity, and Visual Function Index 14 (VF-14) results were collected before and after cataract extraction. Univariate and multivariate linear regression was performed to identify variables related to time on the waiting list for cataract extraction and the influence of waiting time on postoperative visual acuity, visual function, and complications.
Results: The study comprised 3787 patients. Patients with social support spent significantly more time (1.04 times) on the waiting list (P = .0188), while those with contralateral visual acuity better than 0.5 and those with vision-related daily living difficulties spent less time on the waiting list. Patients who waited longer than 5 months for cataract extraction had smaller gains in visual acuity than those who waited fewer than 3 months (P = .0348). Time on the waiting list did not significantly influence changes in the VF-14 results or complications from surgery.
Conclusions: The finding that some contradictory sociodemographic factors influence time spent on a waiting list for cataract extraction suggests that rational, explicit, and homogeneous appropriateness and priority criteria are not being applied to these patients. Use of such criteria could improve waiting times and order waiting lists so patients who need cataract extraction the most would receive it soonest.
Financial disclosure: No author has a financial or proprietary interest in any material or method mentioned.
Copyright © 2010 ASCRS and ESCRS. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.