Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
KARA-JOSE, Newton and TEMPORINI, Edméa Rita. Reasons for not having cataract surgery. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.6, n.4, pp. 242-248. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000900003.
Cataracts are the main cause of blindness in the world, although they can be treated with relatively simple and inexpensive surgery. This study was carried out in 1997 and 1998 in five cities in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, to identify the reasons for persons not having cataract surgery. The population studied were patients seen at a community project for the rehabilitation of cataract-caused blindness, Projeto Zona Livre de Catarata (the Cataract-free-Zone Project). A questionnaire was used to interview 776 individuals with cataracts who sought assistance at the project and who had a visual acuity of 20/100 or less in the better eye. Six hundred and eighty-three patients had previously sought ophthalmic care, most frequently (27%) at public health services. The main reasons for subjects not having had cataract surgery were financial (69% of respondents) and the feeling of "still having good eyesight" (69% of respondents). Among patients who said they were afraid of surgery, the main reason was concern about being left blind. All the subjects whom the project deemed suitable for surgery agreed to undergo the procedure. Apparently, there is a gap between searching for ophthalmic services and the surgical resolution of cataracts. The predominant reasons for not having surgery were financial and logistical. There is a need to facilitate access to cataract surgery by decentralizing social services and by developing community projects to prevent cataract-caused blindness.