Background and objective: The appropriate surgical treatment for the enormous number of patients in developing nations who are blind due to cataract is a hotly debated issue. The authors objective is to demonstrate that modern surgical techniques (extracapsular cataract extraction and intraocular lens implantation, phacoemulsification and intraocular lens implantation) can be performed in a high-volume, cost effective manner, even in temporary settings. The authors believe that the approach to cataract blindness is not simple intracapsular cataract extraction, but rather the challenge of (1) training all ophthalmic personnel in modern techniques (microsurgery, biometry), (2) training managers in higher levels of organizational skill, and (3) doing these things in the face of limited resources.
Patients and methods: A total of 1298 surgeries were performed in a public eye camp in Ganeshpuri, India (50 miles north of Bombay). Of these, 1214 (93.5%) of the patients received intraocular lens (IOL) implants. Ninety-three percent (1032/1108) of the patients who underwent extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) and IOL implantation and 89% (83/93) of the patients who underwent phacoemulsification and IOL implantation returned for follow-up.
Results: Postoperatively, 48% (498/1032) of the patients who underwent ECCE and IOL implantation achieved corrected vision of 6/12 or better and 65% (671/1032) attained corrected vision of 6/18 or better. Of the patients who underwent phacoemulsification and IOL implantation, 59 of 83 (71%) attained vision of 6/12 or better with correction and 68 of 83 (79%) achieved vision of 6/18 or better with correction. These results are almost identical to those obtained by the authors in their Ganeshpuri 1991 camp. Surgical complication rates were comparable to those reported in hospital-based studies.
Conclusion: For this type of camp to operate efficiently, there must be standardization of skills among ophthalmic personnel, costs must be contained, and the organizational skills necessary to ensure smooth functioning of the camp must exist. However, on the basis of their data, these authors believe that with suitable organizational and surgical facilities, IOL implantation can be successfully performed in high-volume surgical eye camps.