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Is early surgery for congenital cataract a risk factor for glaucoma?
  1. M Vishwanath1,
  2. R Cheong-Leen1,
  3. D Taylor1,
  4. I Russell-Eggitt2,
  5. J Rahi3
  1. 1The Visual Science Unit, Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  2. 2The Eye Department, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, UK
  3. 3The Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Dr R Cheong-Leen Institute of Child Health, London, UK;


Aims: To estimate the risk of aphakic glaucoma after lensectomy for congenital cataract and its association with surgery within the first month of life.

Method: A retrospective case notes review was conducted of all patients who had lensectomy for congenital cataract during their first year of life at Great Ormond Street Hospital between 1994 and 1997. Patients with pre-existing glaucoma, anterior segment dysgenesis, and Lowe syndrome were excluded. The risk of aphakic glaucoma after surgery was estimated using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis.

Results: 80 patients, undergoing 128 lensectomies were eligible. Of these, six patients (nine eyes) were lost to follow up. Based on eye count, the risk of glaucoma by 5 years after lensectomy was 15.6% (95% CI 10.2 to 23.4). Based on patient count, the 5 year risk of glaucoma in at least one eye following bilateral surgery was 25.1% (95% CI 15.1 to 40.0). The incidence of glaucoma remained at a constant level for the first 5 years after surgery. After early bilateral lensectomy, within the first month of life, the 5 year risk of glaucoma in at least one eye was 50% (95% CI 27.8 to 77.1) compared to 14.9% (95% CI 6.5 to 32.1) with surgery performed later (log rank test, p = 0.012). There was no significant difference (Kolmogorov-Smirnov test: unilateral lensectomy p = 0.587, bilateral lensectomy p = 0.369) in 5 year visual outcomes between eyes operated before and after 1 month of age.

Conclusion: Bilateral lensectomy during the first month of life is associated with a higher risk of subsequent glaucoma than with surgery performed later. The reason for this is unclear but it may be prudent, in bilateral cases, to consider delaying surgery until the infant is 4 weeks old. As the incidence of glaucoma is similar for each year after surgery, long term glaucoma surveillance is mandatory.

  • congenital cataract
  • early surgery
  • glaucoma
  • lensectomy

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