Purpose: To ascertain whether phacoemulsification with posterior chamber intraocular lens (IOL) implantation causes long-term reduction in intraocular pressure (IOP).
Setting: Private practice, Kempten, Germany.
Methods: Intraocular pressure was measured in both eyes of 120 consecutive patients who were unilaterally phakic after phacoemulsification a mean of 17 months +/- 17 (SD) previously. Mean age of the 36 men and 84 women was 76 +/- 10 years. Data were analyzed using binomial distribution and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.
Results: The median ratio of IOP in the pseudophakic eye to IOP in the phakic eye was 0.83. The IOP was lower in the pseudophakic eye in 96 patients (80%). The median IOP was 12 mm Hg in the pseudophakic eyes and 14 mm Hg in the phakic eyes (P < .001). As measured by the interquartile range, IOP distribution was more centered in the pseudophakic than in the phakic eyes (3 versus 4). The IOP in the pseudophakic eyes remained lower to the last measurement, 5 years postoperatively, and appeared to be independent of patient age. Lower IOP in the pseudophakic eye was consistently present in patients with higher IOP in the phakic eye (16 to 22 mm Hg).
Conclusion: Phacoemulsification with posterior chamber IOL implantation reduced IOP in most but not all patients with a preoperative IOP of 22 mm Hg or less. This reduction was maintained over several years, with the cause yet to be established. Lower IOP may decrease the risk of subsequent glaucomatous nerve damage in these patients.