Objectives: To describe the impact of cataract surgery on visual function and health status in terms of clinical indicators as well as perceived health and functional capacity, and to identify patient characteristics and differences in clinical management that might affect outcomes.
Subjects and methods: Observational longitudinal study of a cohort of 218 patients aged 50 or older undergoing first eye cataract surgery. Patients were evaluated pre- and postoperatively by clinical examinations (visual acuity [VA], ocular and medical comorbidity) and standardized telephone interviews. Main outcome measures included: the VF-14 Visual Function Index, the Cataract Symptom Score (CSS), the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP), and global measures of patients' trouble and satisfaction with vision.
Results: Significant improvement in all outcomes measures were observed at 4 months postoperatively (P < 0.001). However, the proportion of improved patients varied according to the outcome considered: VA (87%), CSS (72%), VF-14 (62%), and SIP (38%). Patient characteristics associated with higher a level of improvement were: worse preoperative visual function (VA, CSS, VF-14) (P < 0.001), less ocular comorbidity (P < 0.05), less postoperative complications (P < 0.05) and better preoperative general health status (SIP) (P < 0.01). The differences in clinical management were not associated with the outcomes (effectiveness) of surgery.
Conclusions: A large proportion of patients benefit from cataract surgery, the greatest gain corresponding to visual function rather than to general health status. Since effectiveness of surgery is unrelated to operative procedures, less costly practices (i.e., day case surgery and loco-regional anesthesia) should be promoted.