Cataract Surgery:

Patient-Reported Data on Appropriateness and Outcomes

PEMD-93-14: Published: Apr 20, 1993. Publicly Released: Apr 20, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO conducted a survey of Medicare patients who had undergone cataract surgery, focusing on: (1) the extent of eye symptoms and visual limitations before and after surgery; and (2) patients' experiences with cataract surgery.

GAO found that: (1) three quarters of the Medicare patients reported one or more visual impairments affecting their ability to drive, read, or watch television prior to cataract surgery; (2) the survey results showed different amounts of questionable surgery based on different criteria for appropriateness; (3) surgery may have been questionable for some patients depending on functional limitations and the risks of surgery; (4) data from the four states surveyed did not allow generalizations regarding the likely levels of questionable cataract surgery; (5) survey responses indicated that a high proportion of patients benefitted from surgery; and (6) most of the patients reported that one or more symptoms improved after surgery with no more than slight interim effects such as numbness or swelling.

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