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Keywords:

  • cataract blindness control;
  • Nepal;
  • visual acuity

Abstract

Background:  Preoperative presenting visual acuity (PPVA) is not a commonly reported indicator for the delivery of cataract services. This study aimed to evaluate the PPVA of patients undergoing cataract surgery in rural and urban areas of Nepal.

Design:  A prospective, non-interventional study conducted from October 2007 to March 2008 in a tertiary hospital and outreach clinics of Nepal.

Participants:  A total of 3023 consecutive subjects from urban and rural settings (1323 from the tertiary hospital and1700 from outreach clinics) with cataract were included.

Methods:  Visual acuity was tested with a Snellen E-chart at 6 m by ophthalmic assistants. All Outreach Microsurgical Eye Clinic patients were examined by either ophthalmologists or senior ophthalmic assistants. Patients at the Tertiary Eye Care Centre were examined only by ophthalmologists.

Main Outcome Measures:  Preoperative presenting visual acuity of patients undergoing cataract surgery was measured in both the settings.

Results:  The sex ratio was 0.96 (male/female). Based on PPVA, 11.5% of patients operated were blind (PPVA < 3/60 in the better eye). The proportion of blind people operated was similar in rural (11.4%) to urban (11.6%) areas. The proportion of blind eyes operated was higher in rural (50.7%) compared to urban (38.9%) areas.

Conclusion:  Despite a comparatively high volume of cataract surgery carried out in Nepal every year, only about one in eight patients operated for cataract in the sample population was blind. PPVA is an important indicator for the progress towards eliminating cataract blindness.