Objective: To measure the effect of cataract extraction and lens implantation on elderly persons' health-related quality of life and on their ability to perform visual activities.
Design: Evaluations of health status were conducted preoperatively and at 3 and 12 months after surgery on patients scheduled for cataract extraction.
Setting: Patients were enrolled from the General Eye Service of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and 33 Boston practices.
Patients: The cohort consisted of 464 patients aged 65 years or older who were identified from the surgical schedule of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. At 3 to 12 months after surgery, 458 (99%) of the participants were successfully contacted. Health-related quality of life data were available for 419 (90%) to assess changes after surgery.
Main outcome measures: Ophthalmologic examinations were performed preoperatively and during the follow-up period. The Activities of Daily Vision Scale (ADVS) and the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item short from (SF-36) were administered before surgery and at 3 and 12 months postoperatively to assess changes in health status.
Results: At 12 months after surgery, 95% of patients had improved Snellen visual acuity, 80% had improved ADVS scores, but only 36% had improved SF-36 physical functioning. Average scores on seven of eight SF-36 subscales worsened at 12 months. Patients with improved ADVS scores had significantly smaller declines across all SF-36 dimensions except for role limitations due to emotional problems.
Conclusion: Improved visual function after cataract surgery was associated with better health-related quality of life, suggesting that age-related declines in health may be attenuated by improvements in visual function.