Trends in Use of Ambulatory Surgery Centers for Cataract Surgery in the United States, 2001-2014 | Cataract and Other Lens Disorders | JAMA Ophthalmology | JAMA Network
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Original Investigation
January 2018

Trends in Use of Ambulatory Surgery Centers for Cataract Surgery in the United States, 2001-2014

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor
  • 2National Clinician Scholars Program, University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, Ann Arbor
  • 3Department of Ophthalmology, New England Eye Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Center for Eye Policy and Innovation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 5Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2018;136(1):53-60. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.5101
Key Points

Question  What proportion of cataract surgeries in the United States are performed at ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), how has this changed over time, and what factors affect the location where cataract surgery takes place?

Findings  In this cohort study including 369 320 individuals in a large managed care network who underwent 531 325 surgeries, the proportion of cataract surgeries performed at ASCs increased from 43.6% in 2001 to 73.0% in 2014, with dramatic geographic variation in ASC use, from 1.6% in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to 98.8% in Pueblo, Colorado.

Meaning  The large shift of cataract surgery from hospital outpatient departments to ASCs has important implications for patient access to surgery, outcomes, safety, and societal costs.


Importance  Cataract surgery is commonly performed at ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs). These venues differ in many ways, including surgical efficiency, patient throughput, patient safety, and costs per surgery.

Objective  To determine trends in use of ASCs and HOPDs for cataract surgery from 2001 to 2014 and factors affecting the site of surgery.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This retrospective longitudinal cohort analysis involved individuals 40 years and older who underwent cataract surgery between January 2001 and December 2014 from a nationwide US managed care network. Data were analyzed from February 2016 to February 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures  We identified all enrollees who underwent cataract surgery and determined whether the surgery was performed at an ASC or HOPD. We calculated the proportion of surgeries performed at each site each year from 2001 to 2014. Multivariable logistic regression identified characteristics of enrollees who had cataract surgery at an ASC vs a HOPD. We also assessed geographic variation in the proportion of cataract surgeries performed at ASCs in 306 communities throughout the United States.

Results  Of the 369 320 enrollees included in this study, 208 319 (56.4%) were female, and the mean (SD) age was 66.3 (10.4) years. All enrollees underwent cataract surgery (531 325 surgeries) from 2001 to 2014. Of these, 237 046 (64.2%) underwent cataract surgery at an ASC. The proportion of cataract surgeries performed at ASCs increased from 43.6% in 2001 to 73.0% in 2014. Compared with enrollees with incomes less than $40 000, those with incomes greater than $100 000 were 20% more likely to undergo cataract surgery at an ASC (odds ratio, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.12-1.29). Enrollees with better overall health were no more likely to undergo cataract surgery at an ASC (odds ratio, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.99-1.00) than at an HOPD. Enrollees who lived in communities without certificate of need laws were more than twice as likely to have surgery at an ASC (odds ratio, 2.49; 95% CI, 2.35-2.63). The proportion of cataract surgeries performed at ASCs from 2012 to 2014 varied considerably, from 1.6% in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to 98.8% in Pueblo, Colorado.

Conclusions and Relevance  We observed a large shift in the site of cataract surgery from HOPDs to ASCs from 2001 to 2014. Future research is needed to assess the effect of this transition in site of surgical care on patient access to surgery, surgical outcomes, patient safety, and societal costs.