Use of cobalt blue light in grading cataract and estimating vision loss

David V. Folden, Charlie W. Wu, David R. Hardten, Sanaz Afiat, Peter Mellema, Gwen M. Hofman, Pamela A. Voelker, Jill S. Melicher Larson, John E. Connett, Donald J. Doughman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: To test an anecdotally reported cataract grading system predictive of a 20/50 visual threshold in cataract-induced vision loss using cobalt blue light. Setting: Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, and Regions Hospital, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Methods: Four observers evaluated pure nuclear cataracts using a standardized cobalt-blue-light protocol. Observers graded a nuclear cataract as positive if the posterior capsule was visualized with cobalt blue light and negative if the posterior capsule was not visualized. Results of the grading were compared with cataract-induced vision loss in an attempt to establish a threshold for lost visual acuity in grading cataracts with cobalt blue light. The study design was prospective observation of a cohort with a visually significant cataract. Results: This study did not show a clear visual acuity threshold for cataract-induced vision loss using a standardized cobalt-blue-light protocol. Overall, 26.3% (95% confidence interval, 13.4-40.2) of all 20/40 or less dense nuclear cataracts had visible posterior capsules using cobalt blue light, with good estimated interobserver agreement. Conclusions: Although cobalt blue light is selectively absorbed by yellow pigment in an aging nuclear cataract, its ability to predict visual acuity loss due to lens opacity was limited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-317
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of cataract and refractive surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of cobalt blue light in grading cataract and estimating vision loss'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this