Cataract extraction outcomes and the prevalence of zonular insufficiency in retinitis pigmentosa

Am J Ophthalmol. 2013 Jul;156(1):82-88.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2013.02.002. Epub 2013 Apr 28.


Purpose: To examine surgical outcomes in patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) undergoing phacoemulsification cataract extraction.

Design: Retrospective observational case series.

Patients and methods: In this single-institution study of consecutive RP patients who underwent phacoemulsification cataract extraction and intraocular lens implantation by a single surgeon between 2002 and 2012, preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative records were analyzed with attention to best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), lens and zonular status, capsular tension ring use, incidence of posterior capsular opacification and neodymium-doped yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) laser capsulotomy, and surgical complications.

Results: Eighty eyes of 47 RP patients (21 male) underwent cataract surgery during the study period at an average age of 48.9 years (range, 31-78 years). Mean follow-up time was 23.3 months (range, 1 day - 95 months). Posterior subcapsular cataracts were present in 97.5% of patients. Mean BCVA improved from 20/340 (logarithm of the minimal angle of resolution [logMAR] 1.23) to 20/129 (0.81) within 3 months of surgery, P < .0001. Eyes with a preoperative vision of 20/40 to 20/200 (47 eyes) improved from a mean of 20/81 (logMAR 0.61) preoperatively to 20/43 (0.33), P < .0001, postoperatively. Posterior capsule opacification occurred in 66 eyes (82.5%), and 42 eyes (52.5%) underwent a YAG laser capsulotomy at a mean of 10.8 months after surgery. Fifteen eyes (18.8%) of 10 patients (21.3%) had signs of phacodonesis (3 eyes noted preoperatively, 8 intraoperatively, and 4 postoperatively). One patient had bilateral dislocated in-the-bag intraocular lenses at 5.5 years and 6 years after surgery.

Conclusion: Cataract surgery yields significantly improved Snellen visual acuity in a majority of RP patients with a preoperative vision of 20/200 or better. Conversely, patients with a preoperative visual acuity of 20/400 or worse generally have more limited objective improvements, likely because of macular involvement, but usually report noticeable subjective improvement. A high prevalence of zonular instability is seen in RP patients undergoing cataract extraction. It is therefore important to conduct a careful preoperative assessment of lens stability with preparation for adjunctive methods that augment intraoperative and postoperative lens stabilization.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Capsule Opacification / etiology
  • Capsule Opacification / surgery
  • Cataract / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Lasers, Solid-State
  • Lens Diseases / etiology*
  • Lens Implantation, Intraocular*
  • Ligaments / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phacoemulsification*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Prevalence
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / complications*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vision, Low / rehabilitation
  • Visual Acuity / physiology