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Can Cataract Surgery Reduce Intraocular Pressure Post Procedure?

March 5, 2013

A new study looks at the relationship between IOP and cataract surgery.

As is often seen with certain health and vision problems, sometimes the onset of one controllable health concern can often spiral into a worse health condition if proper precautions are not taken. For instance, ocular hypertension (a condition which involves the pressure in your eyes) can sometimes lead to glaucoma and permanent vision loss in some individuals if your intraocular pressure (IOP) becomes too high and damages the optic nerve.

ocular hypertensionAn eye pressure (IOP) that reads of 21 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or higher typically identifies those individuals with ocular hypertension.  Between 4.5 to 9.4% of Americans aged 40 or older have ocular hypertension, according to the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study, and this can seriously increase an individual’s risk of developing sight-threatening glaucoma.

Luckily, there are several recommendations that eye doctors will typically make that can help to treat eye pressure, including the possible use of cataract surgery in the future, according to a new study.

While your IOP can typically be reduced through eye drops or glaucoma surgery, a new case series from the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study Group has taken a closer look at the effect of cataract extraction on IOP, specifically in patients with ocular hypertension.

The study analyzed IOP after cataract extraction in the observation group, which consisted of 43 patients (63 eyes) who underwent cataract surgery in at least 1 eye, and 743 participants (743 eyes) that did not undergo cataract surgery. Here were the findings:

In the control group, the mean IOP for visits corresponding to pre­ and postoperative visits were 23.8 ± 3.6 mm Hg and 23.4 ± 3.9 mm Hg, respectively. In the cataract surgery group, postoperative IOP was significantly lower than preoperative IOP (19.8 ± 3.2 mm Hg vs 23.9 ± 3.2 mm Hg; P < .001), and the average percent decrease from preoperative IOP was 16.5%.” ―Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study

So, what does this study mean for patients with ocular hypertension? Based on the findings of this study, it appears as though cataract surgery results in a persistent reduction in intraocular pressure in patients with ocular hypertension. The greatest reduction in postoperative IOP actually occurred in eyes with the highest preoperative IOP―the mean IOP of up to three visits before the “split date,” which was defined as the first study visit date at which cataract surgery was reported in the cataract surgery group.

Many eye doctors are also looking at this study as confirmation of what may already been generally accepted:  cataract surgery is another way of permanently reducing IOP

What do you think about cataract surgery as a way of treating IOP in patients with ocular hypertension and glaucoma? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Image: Source | Research source: Shuchi B. Patel. Cataract Surgery for Ocular Hypertension? Medscape. Mar 01, 2013.

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