Comparison of cataract surgery outcomes in English proficient and limited English proficiency patients

J Cataract Refract Surg. 2023 Jun 1;49(6):595-601. doi: 10.1097/j.jcrs.0000000000001164.


Purpose: To determine differences in cataract surgery outcomes between English proficient (EP) and limited English proficiency (LEP) patients.

Setting: Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center, Aurora, Colorado.

Design: Retrospective.

Methods: Patients who underwent phacoemulsification at the Sue Anschutz-Rogers Eye Center between January 2014 and February 2020 were included. Patients who self-identified as needing or preferring an interpreter in medical encounters were defined as LEP. Differences in surgical characteristics and outcomes including cataract maturity, surgical complexity, and surgical complications were analyzed.

Results: 868 eyes (6.4%) were identified from LEP patients. LEP patients were more likely to have mature cataracts (5.1% vs 2.3%, P < .0001). LEP patients' surgeries were more likely to be considered complex (27.8% vs 15.3%, P < .0001) and use higher cumulative dissipated energy (mean of 9.5 [SD = 9.5] vs 7.2 [SD = 7.1], P < .0001). Preoperative visual acuity was worse in LEP patients (logMAR 0.566 [SD = 0.64] vs 0.366 [SD = 0.51], P < .0001) but showed greater improvement after surgery (logMAR 0.366 [SD = 0.54] vs 0.254 [SD = 0.41], P < .0001). There were no significant differences in operative time, intraoperative or postoperative complications. More LEP patients were on steroids 4 weeks postoperatively when compared with EP patients (14.6% vs 10.1%, P < .0002). LEP patients were less likely to undergo subsequent YAG capsulotomy (7.3% vs 12.8%, P < .0001).

Conclusions: Disparities in cataract outcomes between EP and LEP patients was demonstrated. Further research into ophthalmic health disparities for LEP patients is needed to understand the root causes and how they can be addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cataract*
  • Communication Barriers
  • Humans
  • Limited English Proficiency*
  • Phacoemulsification*
  • Retrospective Studies