To compare the morphology and function of the corneal endothelium in the early postoperative period after extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) and phacoemulsification.
University Eye Clinic of Trieste, Italy.
In this prospective, randomized study of patients scheduled for cataract surgery, 40 patients were divided into two groups of 20 patients each. Group 1 had ECCE and Group 2, phacoemulsification; both had capsular bag intraocular lens (IOL) implantation. Preoperatively and 7 and 30 days postoperatively, a complete ophthalmological examination, endothelial specular microscopy, ultrasonic pachymetry, and anterior segment fluorophotometry were done. Visual acuity, endothelial cell density, cell size variation coefficient, corneal thickness, endothelial permeability coefficient, and endothelial pump function were studied.
Visual acuity was better 7 days after phacoemulsification than after ECCE, but no differences were observed after 30 days. No significant differences in postoperative loss of endothelial cells were found between the two groups. Coefficient of variation in size, corneal thickness, and endothelial permeability significantly increased in both groups 7 days postoperatively, but only in the ECCE group 30 days postoperatively; the differences between the two groups were statistically significant. Endothelial pump function significantly increased after 7 days in only the phacoemulsification group.
Functional endothelial failure occurred in the early period after ECCE. Phacoemulsification seemed to minimize postoperative functional damage to the endothelium.