Cataract surgery: Wait times and quality of life

April 23, 2007

When does the wait time for cataract surgery cross over from being inconvenient to affecting health and quality of life? Dr. William Hodge and colleagues report on their systematic review of studies that assessed the relation between wait times for cataract surgery and patient outcomes. They found that patients who received cataract surgery within 6 weeks of surgical booking experienced better visual and quality-of-life outcomes and experienced fewer adverse events (e.g., falling) than patients who waited 6 months or longer. However, the outcomes associated with wait times between 6 weeks and 6 months remain unclear. This makes it difficult to determine a reasonable wait-time benchmark.

Cataracts are the most common eye disorder in North America. About 50% of people between 55 and 64 years of age, and 85% of people over 75 years of age, will have cataracts within a 10-year period. An opaqueness that develops in the lens of the eye, a cataract interferes with clear vision, affecting a person's quality of life and even safety. Cataracts are usually diagnosed by a family physician or an optometrist. Statistics on wait times for cataract surgery do not take into account the considerable time that may pass between the visit to the primary physician and follow-up visit with a specialist.
p. 1285 - The consequences of waiting for cataract surgery: a systematic review
W. Hodge

Canadian Medical Association Journal

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