Phacoemulsification compared with phacotrabeculectomy surgery: a within-person observational cohort study

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To compare reduction in intraocular pressure (IOP) and gain in visual acuity (VA) following phacotrabeculectomy (PT) and phacoemulsification(phaco) in Tanzanian patients with primary open angle glaucoma(POAG).


CCBRT Hospital, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


Within-person observational cohort study.


Within each patient, one eye had PT and the other phaco. Patients were followed for up to 5-1/2 years, and IOP and VA in each eye were assessed. For a small group of patients, two additional postoperative time points were compared.


52 patients (34 male) with a mean age of 70 years (SD 8 years) were enrolled in the study. For those with 250 days or more follow-up, both operations resulted in lower IOPs and improved VA (p<0.001). The average drop in IOP was 50% (95%CI 45% to 55%) for PT and 41% (95% CI 36% to 46%) for phaco. Mean IOP was lower in the PT group 12.9 mm Hg vs 16.8 mm Hg (p=0.004). Extended follow-up in nine patients showed a rise in IOP of 1.8 mm Hg for PT and 4.2 mm Hg for phaco eyes between first (mean, 337 days) and second (mean 1482 days) follow-up (p=0.18).


In this small study in African patients, PT resulted in lower IOPs than phacoemulsification alone but the difference between the procedures was relatively small. Phacoemulsification alone was effective in reducing IOP and improving VA for several years in this population. Given the relative simplicity of phacoemulsification, it is a therapeutic option worthy of consideration in some settings.

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