A cataract refers to the clouding of the eye's natural lens. By age 75, approximately half of all Americans will develop cloudy
vision caused by cataracts, suggested the National Eye Institute.
most common complication from cataract surgery is high eye pressure,
which can cause swelling and other issues that can lead to vision loss
or even blindness. Now, researchers from the University of Missouri
School of Medicine recommend a new test to check eye pressure to prevent
possible vision loss.
‘Patients who had eye pressure adjusted after cataract surgery with a tonometer were 2.5 to four times less likely to develop complications.’
"The current standard of care following cataract surgery is to refill
the eye with a saline solution and tap on the eye with a Q-tip to
observe if it is too firm, too soft or just right," said John Jarstad,
associate professor of ophthalmology at the MU School of Medicine
and lead researcher of the study. "This Goldilocks-style guesstimate
often is inaccurate, and patients might actually have higher eye fluid
pressure than the surgeon believes. Here at MU Health Care, we use a
device known as a tonometer to accurately gauge eye pressure."
An electronic eye pressure monitoring device known as a tonometer
often is used in a clinical setting to determine eye pressure, but the
device rarely is used in a surgical setting. The researchers studied 170
patients who had eye pressure adjusted after cataract surgery with a
tonometer and found that patients were 2.5 to four times less likely to
develop cystoid macular edema - cyst-like pockets of fluid in the
macula of the eye.
According to Jarstad, normal eye pressure should be between 16 and 21
mmHg, or millimeters of mercury. In most cases, a high eye pressure
will resolve itself in a matter of days without issue, but in cases in
which the pressure is significantly high, a person can experience
symptoms of nausea and pain above the eyebrow. In these cases, it's
important that the pressure be adjusted to prevent permanent damage to
A tonometer costs eye surgeons approximately $4,000, though its use
can save patients up to $150 in medications and eye drops used to treat
retinal swelling or edema. A lower cost pressure ring also can be used
as an effective alternative tool to gauge eye pressure, Jarstad said.
Potential complications from using a pressure monitoring device include
eye infections, though Jarstad has not observed an infection in five
years of using a pressure monitor.
"Seeing patients who had gone blind because of high eye pressure
convinced me that there needed to be a better, more accurate gauge,"
Jarstad said. "I recommend eye surgeons adopt this practice for the good
of their patients. There is no additional cost to patients, and if it
saves just one patient from going blind, it would be well worth every
doctor using it in his or her surgical practice."