Analysis of a Systematic Review About Blue Light–Filtering Intraocular Lenses for Retinal Protection. Understanding the Limitations of the Evidence

Laura E. Downie*, Richard Wormald, Jennifer Evans, Gianni Virgili, Peter R. Keller, John G. Lawrenson, Tianjing Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: Cataract surgery, with intraocular lens (IOL) implantation, is the most common ocular surgical procedure worldwide. It has been suggested that IOLs that selectively attenuate short wavelength visible light (blue light-filtering IOLs) may be beneficial for macular health. Whether blue light-filtering IOLs impart retinal photoprotection is of public health relevance, particularly in the context of aging demographics and the increasing global prevalence of age-related macular degeneration. This review analyzes and interprets the key findings, including consideration of the implications for practice and future research, of a 2018 Cochrane systematic review that evaluated the efficacy and safety of blue light-filtering IOLs for providing protection to macular health and function. Observations: The Cochrane systematic review included 51 randomized controlled trials that were performed in 17 countries. The trials involved adults undergoing cataract surgery in which a blue light-filtering IOL was compared with an equivalent non-blue light-filtering IOL. Study follow-up periods ranged from 1 month to 5 years. Together, these studies considered clinical outcomes in more than 5000 eyes. There was limited ability to combine data across trials (to draw overall conclusions) because of the use of different measurement techniques for outcomes, incomplete reporting of data, and/or varied follow-up periods. We identified substantial shortcomings in the internal validity of many of the included studies, particularly regarding trial design, conduct, and reporting. We propose several avenues for improving the rigor of potential future research in the field, including developing a core set of outcome measures, the inclusion of sample size calculations, the masking of trial participants and outcome assessors, and prospective clinical trial registration. Conclusions and Relevance: Using blue light-filtering IOLs to impart benefits to the macula is currently not supported by the best available clinical research evidence, and it is important that clinicians are mindful of this evidence limitation when adopting these devices in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-697
Number of pages4
JournalJAMA Ophthalmology
Issue number6
Early online date21 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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