Cataract Surgery in One Eye or Both: A Billion Dollar per Year Issue

Jonathan C. Javitt, Earl P. Steinberg, Phoebe Sharkey, Oliver D. Schein, James M. Tielsch, Marie Diener West, Marcia Legro, Alfred Sommer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To measure the relative effect of cataract surgery in the second eye compared with the first eye on functional impairment, satisfaction, and vision problems. Methods: Seventy-five randomly selected ophthalmologists in three cities in the United States were enrolled in a National Study of Cataract Outcomes. They, in turn, referred eligible, sequential patients scheduled for first-eye cataract surgery. Interviews were conducted at enrollment, 4 months after first-eye surgery, and 12 months after first-eye surgery. An attempt was made to conduct a special, preoperative interview of those patients scheduled to undergo second-eye surgery before the 4-month interview. Each interview included administration of the VF-14 (a 14-item questionnaire that assessed visual function), as well as questions about symptoms possibly related to cataract, “trouble with vision,” and satisfaction with vision. Results: Seven hundred seventy-two patients were enrolled in the study, and interview data to 12 months were obtained from 669 (86%) patients. Of these patients, 243 (36%) underwent cataract extraction in the second eye during the 12-month period of observation. Overall, subjects who underwent cataract surgery in both eyes during the 12-month period had 61% greater improvement in VF-14 score (P < 0.001), 27% more decline in trouble with vision (P < 0.001), and 24% greater improvement in satisfaction with vision (P < 0.001) compared with those who underwent surgery in only one eye. Conclusions: Cataract surgery in the second eye of patients with bilateral cataract is associated with clinically and statistically significant improvement in functional impairment, trouble with vision, and satisfaction with vision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1583-1593
Number of pages11
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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