A ‘low-tech’ solution to prioritising cataract waiting lists

UK researchers have posted pen and paper contrast sensitivity tests to 233 patients waiting for a cataract assessment

A white letter box is displayed. A newsletter folded in half can be seen protruding from the letter box
Pixabay/Nisha Gill

Researchers have explored the potential of using a mailed contrast sensitivity test in order to prioritise those waiting for a cataract assessment.

Writing in Eye, scientists from City, University of London and the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust highlighted that cataract waiting lists are increasing globally.

“Pragmatic, cost-effective methods are required to prioritise the most urgent cases,” the authors emphasised.

The researchers posted pen-and-paper contrast sensitivity checks to 233 people waiting for a cataract assessment, alongside a pre-paid return envelope. They received responses from around half of those contacted (46%).

A subset of 39 patients underwent in-person, follow up testing to confirm the accuracy of the data captured at home.

The scientists then examined how well the home test results predicted which patients were subsequently listed for cataract surgery.

They found that the pen-and-paper contrast sensitivity checks were “reasonably predictive” of later surgery, while the results also correlated with related measures gathered through in-person checks – such as LogMAR acuity, Pelli-Robson contrast sensitivity and biometry.

“Taken together, these results indicate that a low-tech, low-cost pen-and-paper test might feasibly be used to help inform the prioritisation of patients on cataract waiting lists,” the authors concluded.