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Benefits of cataract surgery last in most patients

Eye / Vision ProblemsAug 19, 05

Visual function after cataract surgery may decrease over time in some patients, but many still show improvement years after surgery, Swedish researchers report in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Drs. Mats Lunstrom and E. Wendel, from Blekinge Hospital, Sweden, examined how long patients’ improved visual function lasts following a cataract surgery.

They administered a questionnaire before and 6 months after a cataract extraction to evaluate visual function in 615 subjects who had undergone surgery between 1995 and 2002. The subjects were followed-up with a final questionnaire between 1 and 8 years after surgery.

In 77.3 percent of all respondents, the total disability score was lower at follow-up than it was before surgery, showing that the benefits of the operation had lasted. In 9.4 percent the score was unchanged and in 13.3 percent the score was higher than before surgery, showing that their condition had worsened.

After 7 years, approximately 50 percent of patients were still alive and overall, 80 percent still had improved visual function compared with before surgery. Patients who had other eye problems or who had self-assessed poor vision before surgery were significantly more likely to have deteriorated vision at follow-up.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. N. Congdon, of Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Baltimore, notes that although the proportion of subjects reporting improved vision after surgery declines, the fact that “80 percent still have improved function 7 years after surgery is, none the less, extremely encouraging.”

SOURCE: British Journal of Ophthalmology, August 2005.

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