Objective: To describe the relationship between patients' preoperative expectations regarding the outcome of cataract surgery and actual postoperative experience.
Methods: A longitudinal study of 772 patients undergoing first eye cataract surgery recruited from 75 ophthalmology practices in three metropolitan areas was conducted. Prior to surgery and approximately 4 months after surgery, a detailed interview was conducted that included general and vision-specific health status measures (including the Visual Function 12-Item Scale [VF-12]), patient-reported level of trouble and satisfaction with vision, and questions addressing patients' preoperative expectations regarding the outcomes of surgery. In addition, detailed clinical data were collected preoperatively and postoperatively. A total of 552 patients had only single eye cataract surgery by 4 months postoperatively and are included in this analysis.
Results: Patients' preoperative expectations regarding the impact of cataract surgery were very high and were unrelated to their demographic or ocular characteristics. The preoperative VF-12 score, however, was positively correlated with expected postoperative VF-12 score (Spearman correlation, .45, P < .001). Only 61% of patients achieved or surpassed their expected level of postoperative functioning. The difference between expected and actual postoperative VF-12 scores was not associated with patients' demographic characteristics or provider-related variables. Older patients (> 75 years) and patients with ocular comorbidity had a larger difference between expected and actual postoperative functioning than younger patients and those without ocular comorbidity.
Conclusion: Expectations regarding visual functioning after cataract surgery are very high, and in most cases such expectations are fulfilled. In selected cases, more comprehensive counseling may reduce the discrepancy between expectations and actual outcomes of cataract surgery.