American Journal of Ophthalmology
June 2018

Outcomes and Predictive Factors After Cataract Surgery in Patients With Neovascular Age-related Macular Degeneration. The Fight Retinal Blindness! Project

Vincent Daien, Vuong Nguyen, Nigel Morlet, Jennifer J Arnold, Rohan W Essex, Stephanie Young, Alex Hunyor, Mark C Gillies, Daniel Barthelmes, Fight Retinal Blindness! Study Group


Purpose: To evaluate outcomes and predictive factors of visual acuity (VA) change after cataract surgery in patients being treated for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD).

Design: Retrospective, matched case-control study.

Methods: We studied eyes undergoing cataract surgery that had been tracked since they first started treatment for nAMD. These eyes were compared with a cohort of unoperated phakic eyes being treated for nAMD (3 per case) matched for treatment duration before cataract surgery, baseline VA, age, and length of follow-up.

Results: We included 124 patients that had cataract surgery and 372 matched controls. The mean (95% confidence interval) VA gained was 10.6 letters (7.8, 13.2; P < .001) 12 months after surgery; 26.0% had gained ≥3 lines and 1.6% had lost ≥3 lines of VA. Visual acuity (mean [standard deviation]) 12 months after surgery was higher in eyes that had cataract extraction compared with controls (65.8 [17.1] vs 61.3 [20.8] letters, respectively, P = .018). The proportion of visits where the choroidal neovascular (CNV) lesion was graded active and the mean number of injections were similar before and after surgery (P = .506 and P = .316, respectively), whereas both decreased in the control group, suggesting that surgery modestly increased the level of activity of the CNV lesion. Mean [SD] VA prior to surgery was lower in eyes that gained ≥15 letters compared with eyes that gained 0-14 letters (40.2 [21.4] vs 62.1 [15.1], P < .001). Patients undergoing cataract surgery within the first 6 months of anti-VEGF therapy were more likely to lose rather than gain vision (20.8% lost vision vs 12.8% and 4.4% gaining ≥15 or 0-14 letters respectively, P = .023). Age, receiving an injection at least 2 weeks before surgery, and the CNV lesion type had no discernible association with VA outcomes. Conclusions: We found evidence of a modest effect of cataract surgery on CNV lesion activity in eyes being treated for nAMD. Despite this, visual outcomes were reassuringly good. Cataract surgery within 6 months of starting treatment for nAMD should be avoided if possible.