Cataract Program in Rural China Proves Successful

Study reports good visual outcomes in patients undergoing cataract removal

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Project Vision, a program establishing eye centers in rural China that offer quality cataract surgery at affordable prices, appears to produce good results, according to two studies published online Oct. 22 in the Archives of Ophthalmology. The program is designed to overcome the problems of underfunding and lack of surgical specialists in rural China by training local non-ophthalmologist physicians to perform cataract operations.

In the first study, Dennis S.C. Lam, M.D., of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues measured visual acuity and astigmatism in 176 individuals who underwent cataract removal by two physicians trained in the program. Outcomes were superior to results for other rural facilities, with presenting postoperative visual acuity of 6/18 or better in 83.4 percent of patients, and best-corrected acuity of 6/18 or better in 95.7 percent.

In the second study, Nathan G. Congdon, M.D., of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues measured self-reported visual function and uptake of refraction in the same 176 individuals. The mean visual function score was 88.4, which is higher than that reported for other cataract programs in rural China. While 87 percent of individuals' vision improved with refraction, only 35 percent accepted prescriptions for glasses.

This model "is based on providing high-quality surgery at prices that are affordable to the local population but sufficient to sustain programs at rural government hospitals. This offers a unique solution to the twin problems of underfunded rural facilities and unavailability of surgical services in the countryside," Congdon and colleagues write.

Abstract - Lam
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Abstract - Congdon
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