Visual Acuity Outcomes after Cataract Surgery: High-Volume versus Low-Volume Surgeons

Jacob T. Cox, Ganesh Babu B. Subburaman, Beatriz Munoz, David S. Friedman, Ravilla D. Ravindran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The primary objective was to assess associations between annual surgeon case volume and visual acuity outcomes after cataract surgery. Secondary objectives included (1) assessing associations between other case and patient characteristics and visual acuity outcomes and (2) assessing associations between annual surgeon case volume and complication rates. Design: Database study. Participants: All adult eyes that underwent small-incision cataract surgery (SICS) or phacoemulsification cataract extraction (PECE) with intraocular lens placement at the Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, India, during 2015. Methods: Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the study population. Uncorrected visual acuity (UCVA) at follow-up was assessed relative to annual surgeon case volume and other case and demographic factors using bivariate linear regression with random effects modeling. Factors with P values of less than 0.20 on bivariate regression were included in multivariate linear regression with random effects modeling. Main Outcome Measures: Postoperative UCVA after cataract surgery. Results: Of 91 084 surgeries, 35 880 eyes were included in this study. Cases were performed by 69 surgeons, who varied in annual case volume from 76 to 2900 cases during the study period. Increasing annual surgeon case volume was independently associated with a statistically significant but clinically modest improvement in UCVA in PECE but not in SICS. This association was most pronounced when comparing surgeons with case volumes of 350 PECE/year or fewer; surgeons with more than 350 PECE/year had similar results to one another. Similarly, increased annual case volume was associated with significantly lower complication rates, both in PECE and SICS. Younger patient age was independently associated with improved visual acuity outcomes and lower complication rates in both PECE and SICS. Greater surgeon experience was associated with lower complication rates in PECE, but not SICS, and there was no significant association with visual acuity outcomes. Conclusions: High-volume cataract surgeons showed improved visual acuity outcomes in PECE and lower complication rates in PECE and SICS. These findings further support the benefit of high-output ophthalmology clinics wherein individual surgeons perform a high number of cataract extractions annually, particularly in developing nations where there is a large backlog of untreated cataracts and the cataract patient-to-surgeon ratio is high.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1480-1489
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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