Purpose: There are an estimated 16 million people blind from cataract world-wide. In many areas the routine operation is intracapsular cataract extraction (ICCE). The role of modern anterior chamber (AC) intraocular lenses (IOLs) is being explored, and they have been shown to be safe and successful in Asia. Are they equally safe in rural black African populations?
Methods: One hundred black patients aged 50 years and over who attended Edendale Hospital were enrolled in a pilot study of insertion of AC IOLs after ICCE. They were followed up for 6 months.
Results: With financial remuneration, the follow-up rate at 8 weeks increased from the usual 30% to 72%. At 6 months, 67% of eyes achieved a correlated visual acuity of 6/18 or better. Thirty per cent had persistent uveitis, 16% had peripheral anterior synechiae beyond the points of haptic contact, and 5% had an intraocular pressure greater than 21 mmHg.
Conclusions: A randomised trial comparing ICCE with AC IOL and extracapsular cataract extraction with posterior chamber IOL is probably not justified at this time in this population. However, there may be wide variations in the reaction of the eyes of different African ethnic groups to IOLs. In view of the successful use of AC IOLs in Asian eyes, further pilot studies of AC IOLs may be warranted in other parts of Africa where ICCE is the routine procedure.