Purpose: To assess the clinical outcomes of cataract surgery in rural southern India.
Methods: Cluster sampling was used in randomly selecting a cross-sectional sample of persons 50 years of age or older for visual acuity measurement, refraction, and ocular examination in 1999. Subjects were queried as to the date and place of surgery for each cataract-operated eye. Surgical complications were noted and the principal cause of reduced vision was identified for eyes with presenting visual acuity worse than 6/18.
Results: Within the cataract-operated sample of 682 persons, 13.8% had presenting visual acuity worse than 6/60 in both eyes, 25.2% better than or equal to 6/18 in both eyes, and 37.8% were bilaterally operated on. For aphakic eyes, 50.5% presented with visual acuity better than or equal to 6/18; 82.6% with best-correction. For pseudophakic eyes, the corresponding percentages were 78.0% and 94.5%. Over one-third of all eyes were pseudophakic, and nearly three-fourths had been operated on in non-governmental facilities. Uncorrected aphakia and other refractive error were the main causes of vision impairment. In multiple logistic regression modeling, poor presenting visual acuity in aphakic eyes was associated with illiteracy, rural residence, and surgery in government facilities; gender and time period of surgery were not predictors of vision outcomes. None of these variables were associated with best-corrected outcomes in aphakic eyes, nor with presenting and best-corrected outcomes in pseudophakic eyes.
Conclusions: Visual acuity outcomes in pseudophakic eyes were good. More attention must be given to needless vision impairment among the cataract-operated because of inadequate aphakic correction, especially among those operated on in government facilities, the illiterate, and those living in rural villages.