Evaluation of the age-related eye disease study clinical lens grading system AREDS report No. 31.
PURPOSE: To examine the grading (interrater) reliability of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) Clinical Lens Grading System (ARLNS).
DESIGN: Evaluation of diagnostic test or technology.
PARTICIPANTS: One hundred fifty volunteers (284 eyes).
METHODS: Participants with lens opacities of varying severity were independently graded at the slit lamp for cataract severity by 2 examiners (retinal or anterior segment specialists) using the ARLNS, which employs 3 standard photographs of increasing severity for classifying each of the 3 major types of opacity. Lens photographs were taken and graded at a reading center using the more detailed AREDS System for Classifying Cataracts from photographs.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The Pearson correlation, weighted-kappa, and limits-of-agreement statistics were used to assess the interrater agreement of the gradings.
RESULTS: Examinations were performed on 284 lenses (150 participants). Tests of interrater reliability between pairs of clinicians showed substantial agreement between clinicians for cortical and posterior subcapsular opacities and moderate agreement for nuclear opacities. A similar pattern and strength of agreement was present when comparing scores of retinal versus anterior segment specialists. Interrater agreement between clinical and reading center gradings was not as great as inter-clinician agreement.
CONCLUSIONS: Interrater agreements were in the moderate to substantial range for the clinical assessment of lens opacities. Inherent differences in cataract classification systems that rely on slit lamp vs photographic assessments of lens opacities may explain some of the disagreement noted between slit lamp and photographic gradings. Given the interrater reliability statistics for clinicians and the simplicity of the grading procedure, ARLNS is presented for use in studies requiring a simple, inexpensive method for detecting the presence and severity of the major types of lens opacities.
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE(S): The authors have no proprietary or commercial interest in any of the materials discussed in this article.