Mar. 12, 2009 A large study by Canadian researchers has found that endophthalmitis, a serious infection of the inner eye, continues to be rare following cataract surgery.
Because surgical techniques and patient selection criteria have evolved rapidly in the past several years, the researchers wanted to learn whether infection risks were changing as a result. The largest previous study, completed in 2001 using records of half-million United States Medicare cataract patients, had documented very low infection rates.
Chaim M. Bell, MD, PhD, and Wendy Hatch OD, MSc, University of Toronto, Canada, and their colleagues reviewed records for more than 440,000 consecutive cataract surgeries performed in surgical facilities in Ontario, Canada, between April 2002 and March 2006. Facilities where more than 50 cataract surgeries were performed annually were included. To estimate infection rates, the study tracked post-operative procedures to treat suspected infections that occurred within 14 days of cataract surgery.
The overall rate of suspected acute endophthalmitis was very low: 1.4 per 1,000 surgeries. Patients who required procedures to correct ruptures of their lens capsule, the structure that contains the eye's lens, during their cataract surgery were about 10 times more likely to develop suspected infection, but fewer than 1 in 200 sustained such a rupture.
The highest rate of suspected endophthalmitis occurred in patients over age 85 (2.18 per 1,000). Men were at somewhat higher risk than women (1.7 vs. 1.19 per 1,000). No differences in rates were found between patients living in rural vs. non-rural settings, nor were differences noted among socioeconomic groups.
No upward or downward trend in suspected endophthalmitis related to cataract surgery was evident during the study period.
The research was published in the March issue of Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
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