A study of more than half a million patients undergoing cataract surgery showed a modest reduction in the number of serious traffic crashes.
Previous studies suggested that cataract leads to decreased driving performance, but no large study was ever performed to assess the impact of cataract surgery on driving safety, according to researchers.
The current study included 559,546 inhabitants of Ontario, Canada, who had undergone cataract surgery between 2006 and 2016. The mean age of this population was 75 years. Each patient was observed for 4 years before surgery and at least 1 year after surgery.
A total of 6,482 serious crashes occurred in which the patient was the driver of a car, motorcycle or bicycle. The crash rate was 2.36 per 1,000 patient-years before surgery and 2.14 per 1,000 patient-years after surgery, accounting for a reduction of 0.22 per 1,000 patient-years. These numbers suggest that one serious traffic crash is potentially avoided every 5,000 surgeries.
Further analysis showed that the male sex, younger age and a history of traffic crashes were correlated with higher chances of traffic crash after surgery as were comorbidities, such as osteoarthritis, prior myocardial infarction, emphysema and anxiety.
Interestingly, crash rate after surgery was higher in the first postoperative month, likely due to overconfidence, ongoing adaptation, uncorrected refractive error and anisometropia, the authors noted.
Worldwide, traffic crashes account for 1.2 million deaths annually, and drivers older than 65 years have the highest death rate per mile driven.
“Reducing traffic crashes represents an important objective owing to the significant associated societal costs, morbidity and mortality,” the authors wrote.
“The results of this study suggest that we need to be speaking to our patients about their driving, especially in low light settings where there is a potential for glare,” author Matthew B. Schlenker, MD, MSc, FRCSC, told Primary Care Optometry News. “Patients with a history of traffic crash are particularly prone to future traffic crashes. The good news is that we found a 9% reduced risk of serious traffic crash after cataract surgery compared to before cataract surgery. This safety gain is substantial and equals the benefits of an airbag.” – by Michela Cimberle
Disclosures: The authors reported no relevant financial disclosures.