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JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Surgery for cataracts in people with age-related macular degeneration

Heather Casparis, Kristina Lindsley, Irene C Kuo, Shameema Sikder, Neil B Bressler
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012 June 13, (6): CD006757
22696359

BACKGROUND: Cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are common causes of decreased vision that often occur simultaneously in people over age 50. Although cataract surgery is an effective treatment for cataract-induced visual loss, some clinicians suspect that such an intervention may increase the risk of worsening of underlying AMD and thus have deleterious effects on vision.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this review was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of cataract surgery in eyes with AMD.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched CENTRAL (which contains the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group Trials Register) (The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 4), MEDLINE (January 1950 to April 2012), EMBASE (January 1980 to April 2012), Latin American and Caribbean Literature on Health Sciences (LILACS) (January 1982 to April 2012), the metaRegister of Controlled Trials (mRCT) (www.controlled-trials.com), ClinicalTrials.gov (www.clinicaltrials.gov) and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) (www.who.int/ictrp/search/en). There were no date or language restrictions in the electronic searches for trials. The electronic databases were last searched on 16 April 2012.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-randomized trials of eyes affected by both cataract and AMD in which cataract surgery would be compared to no surgery.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently evaluated the search results against the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Two authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias for included studies. We resolved discrepancies by discussion.

MAIN RESULTS: One RCT with 60 participants with visually significant cataract and AMD was included in this review. Participants were randomized to immediate cataract surgery (within two weeks of enrollment) (n = 29) or delayed cataract surgery (six months after enrollment) (n = 31). At six months, four participants were lost to follow-up; two participants from each group. The immediate surgery group showed mean improvement in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) compared with the delayed surgery group at six months (mean difference (MD) 0.15 LogMAR, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.28 to 0.02). There was no significant difference in the development of choroidal neovascularization between groups (1/27 eyes in the immediate surgery group versus 0/29 eyes in the delayed surgery group). Results from Impact of Vision Impairment (IVI) questionnaires suggested that the immediate surgery group faired better with quality of life outcomes than the delayed surgery group (MD in IVI logit scores 1.60, 95% CI 0.61 to 2.59). No postoperative complication was reported. We identified a second potentially relevant study of immediate versus delayed cataract surgery in 54 people with AMD. Results for the study are not yet available, but may be eligible for future updates of this review.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: At this time, it is not possible to draw reliable conclusions from the available data to determine whether cataract surgery is beneficial or harmful in people with AMD. Physicians will have to make practice decisions based on best clinical judgment until controlled trials are conducted and their findings published.It would be valuable for future research to investigate prospective RCTs comparing cataract surgery to no surgery in patients with AMD to better evaluate whether cataract surgery is beneficial or harmful in this group. However ethical considerations need to be addressed when delaying a potentially beneficial treatment and it may not be feasible to conduct a long-term study where surgery is withheld from the control group. Utilization of pre-existing, standardized systems for grading cataract and AMD and measuring outcomes (visual acuity, change in visual acuity, worsening of AMD and quality of life measures) should be encouraged.

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