Comparing Resident Outcomes in Cataract Surgery at Different Levels of Experience

Clin Ophthalmol. 2020 Dec 29;14:4523-4531. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S285967. eCollection 2020.


Purpose: To evaluate outcomes of resident-performed cataract surgeries in different training levels in a retrospective case series.

Patients and methods: A total of 730 surgeries performed by residents were evaluated into three groups: surgeries performed during residents' first semester of training in phacoemulsification (Level 1 - L1), surgeries performed during the second semester (Level 2 - L2), and surgeries performed during the third semester (Level 3 - L3). The primary outcome was the incidence of intraoperative complications in each group. Secondary outcomes were the comparisons between initial and final corrected distance visual acuity (CDVA), intraocular pressure (IOP), endothelial cell density (ECD), and central corneal thickness (CCT) in each group. Descriptive statistical analyses were employed in the presentation of the results using central tendency and variance measurements.

Results: The rate of complications within six weeks of follow-up was 24 out of 102 eyes (23.53%) in the L1 group, 63 out of 301 eyes (20.93%) in the L2 group, and 37 out of 327 (11.31%) in the L3 group (p=0.001). Posterior capsule rupture (PCR) was the most frequent intercurrence observed in all three semesters: it occurred in 12.7% of the surgeries in the first semester (13/102), 16.9% of surgeries in the second semester (51/301), and 9.5% of surgeries in the third semester (31/327). There was no significant difference in CDVA (p=0.298), ECD (p=0.067), IOP (p=0.217), or CCT (p=0.807) between the groups.

Conclusion: When measured by rates of complications and by the aforementioned parameters, surgical competency was found to improve as surgical experience and frequency increased. Therefore, this study identified some patterns of skill development that can be applied to teaching strategies and better assist surgeons in training.

Keywords: cataract; complications; ophthalmology residency; phacoemulsification; practicing surgeons; surgical education.

Grants and funding

The authors declare that they have no funding.