Researchers have found that rural areas in Germany have lower standards of care offered to cataract patients compared to treatment received by those living in urban areas.
“In this part of Germany there are only a few cities surrounded by countryside, where medical services are structurally weaker,” Tim Herbst, MBA, said at the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons winter meeting, according to a news release.
Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss due to aging, currently afflicting 20 million people worldwide. The condition is characterized by cloudiness in the lens of the eye due to the accumulation of aggregates of misfolding proteins, specifically crystallins, which largely makes up the fiber cells in the eye lens.
Authors collected data from the Quality Net Bellevue database, a cooperation network between the Eye Hospital Bellevue in Kiev and 44 local ophthalmologists in the countryside. They collected both preoperative and postoperative data from 6,452 cataract cases, and followed with a quality assessment using the Quality Index Bellevue system.
Significant differences were found between rural and urban cataract patients, with rural patients displaying less favorable results. In urban areas, nucleus grading, measured according to the Lens Opacities Classification System III (LOCS III, a common method of grading cataracts), and consequently effective phaco time (EPT, to measure phacoemulsification results) were lower. Although not reaching significant differences, visual acuity at presentation and visual acuity post-op, taken together with patient satisfaction, were slightly better in urban areas.
“The highest LOCS III grading and EPT were found in the southwestern region, which is very rural,” Herbst said.
The results suggest that in Germany there is the need to provide better standard of care treatments to cataract patients who live in rural areas, possibly by assuring more equipment and medical staff to ensure prompt access to ophthalmological services.
Swiss Advanced Vision, a company that designs, manufactures, and distributes a new generation of intraocular lenses for cataract surgery, recently announced a new product for post-cataract surgery, an intraocular lens (IOL) called InFo Instant Focus, that it says restores “perfect vision.”