Surgeon effects on cataract refractive outcomes are minimal compared with patient comorbidity and gender: an analysis of 490 987 cases

Br J Ophthalmol. 2023 Apr;107(4):488-494. doi: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2021-320231. Epub 2021 Nov 11.


Aim: To investigate effect of patient age, gender, comorbidities and surgeon on refractive outcomes following cataract surgery.

Methods: Study population: patients on UK national ophthalmic cataract database on cataract operations undertaken between 1 April 2010 and 31 August 2018. Variables examined included gender, age, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, high myopia, inherited retinal disease, optic nerve disease, uveitis, pseudoexfoliation, vitreous opacities, retinal pathology, cataract type, previous surgery and posterior capsular rupture. A multivariate normal cross-classified model was fitted to the refractive outcome using Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods with diffuse priors to approximate maximum likelihood estimation. A MCMC chain was generated with a burn-in of 5000 iterations and a monitoring chain of 50 000 iterations.

Results: 490 987 cataract operations were performed on 351 864 patients by 2567 surgeons. Myopic and astigmatic errors were associated with posterior capsule rupture (-0.38/+0.04×72), glaucoma (-0.10/+0.05×95), previous vitrectomy (-0.049/+0.03×66) and high myopia (-0.07/+0.03×57). Hyperopic and astigmatic errors were associated with diabetic retinopathy (+0.08/+0.03×104), pseudoexfoliation (+0.07/+0.01×158), male gender (+0.12/+0.05×91) and age (-0.01/+0.06×97 per increasing decade). Inherited retinal disease, optic nerve disease, previous trabeculectomy, uveitis, brunescent/white cataract had no significant impact on the error of the refractive outcome. The effect of patient gender and comorbidity was additive. Surgeons only accounted for 4% of the unexplained variance in refractive outcome.

Conclusion: Patient comorbidities and gender account for small but statistically significant differences in refractive outcome, which are additive. Surgeon effects are very small.

Keywords: lens and zonules; optics and refraction; treatment surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cataract* / complications
  • Comorbidity
  • Diabetic Retinopathy* / complications
  • Glaucoma*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myopia*
  • Optic Nerve Diseases* / complications
  • Phacoemulsification* / methods
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Retinal Diseases* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgeons*
  • Vitreous Body