All in a day's work: immediate sequential bilateral cataract surgery

30 July 2021
Summer 2021

The pandemic has restarted the discussion about the benefits of bilateral same-day cataract surgery for select patients. Natalie Healey explores the pros and cons from patient and provider perspectives.

Cataract surgery has a high success rate for improving sight. Many patients have cataract in both their eyes and some, particularly in the private sector, choose bilateral same-day cataract surgery – also called immediate sequential bilateral cataract surgery (ISBCS) – where both lenses are replaced in operations conducted only minutes apart. This avoids two visits to hospital and two recovery periods of up to six weeks each. However, surgeons are divided over whether the benefits outweigh the risks. 

At the moment, ISBCS makes up only a small proportion of cataract operations in the UK. A recent survey of Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) members found that only 13.9% of surgeons perform the procedure (Lee et al, 2020). Instead of tackling both cataracts in one day, the conventional approach is delayed sequential bilateral cataract surgery (DSBCS). Here, the operation is performed on each eye on separate days. The interval allows surgeons to check the results in the first eye before they move on to the second. 

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