Objective: No previous study documents improvement in visual acuity and subjective visual function associated with cataract surgery in the first eye, second eye, and both eyes. Measurement of subjective aspects of visual function and quality of life provides information that cannot be obtained with simple measurement of Snellen visual acuity.
Methods: From 76 ophthalmology practices in three cities, patients undergoing cataract extraction with intraocular lens implantation (n = 613) and comparison patients (n = 408) were enrolled in a prospective study. Questionnaires elicited visual function information before and after surgery, and visual acuity was obtained from the ophthalmologic record.
Results: Among patients with cataract and no other eye disease, baseline subjective visual function before surgery in the second eye was better than that before surgery in the first eye. Improvement in subjective visual function was approximately equal postoperatively in first and second eyes. Improvement in subjective function in both eyes postoperatively was significantly greater than that after surgery in the first eye or second eye alone. No statistically significant difference across surgical groups in the proportion of patients demonstrating improvement in visual acuity was observed.
Conclusion: Patients who underwent surgery in both eyes reported greater improvement in subjective visual function than did those who underwent surgery in one eye. Thus, there seems to be a benefit associated with restoring binocular vision in this population. These findings support the policy recommendation that cataract surgery in both eyes remains the appropriate treatment for patients with bilateral, cataract-induced visual impairment.