Objective: To examine Canadian ophthalmologists' reported practices related to cataract surgery.
Design: Mailed questionnaire survey.
Participants: Random sample of 698 ophthalmologists from the mailing list of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. Of the 528 eligible ophthalmologists 353 completed the questionnaire (response rate 67%). A total of 276 respondents were classified as cataract surgeons (performed at least one cataract operation in the preceding year ) and were included in the study.
Outcome measures: Reported use of preoperative ophthalmic tests, surgical technique, cataract anesthesia (including type of block and who administers it) and postoperative care.
Results: Most of the preoperative tests examined either were so routine as to be done in almost all cases or were rarely done at all. A total of 52% of the respondents were identified as predominantly extracapsular cataract extraction surgeons (ECCE), 46% as predominantly phacoemulsification surgeons and 2% as predominantly intracapsular cataract extraction surgeons. Overall, 57% of the respondents reported high use of retrobulbar anesthesia, 18% reported high use of peribulbar anesthesia, and 0.7% reported high use of general anesthesia. The mean number of postoperative visits in the first 4 months after surgery was 4.25. The mean rate of Nd:YAG laser capsulotomy in the first year after cataract surgery was 17.9%; 91% of the respondents reported a rate less than 40%.
Conclusions: There seems to be limited use of nonessential preoperative ocular testing by Canadian cataract surgeons. Although ECCE remains the most common type of surgery performed, there appears to be a substantial number of surgeons trying phacoemulsification, and this will likely become the predominant technique in the near future. The self-reported practices of Canadian surgeons with relation to preoperative testing and postoperative follow-up appear to be consistent with the Clinical Practice Guideline for cataract surgery set by the US Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. However, variations in the number of postoperative visits and Nd:YAG capsulotomy rates merit further investigation.