Choosing to Have Cataract Surgery Will Add Years to
Lives of Older People
finds 40% lower mortality among patients who had vision corrected
compared to those who live with the impairment
- will affect more than half of all
Americans by the time they are 80
View with Cataract Problem
Sept. 9, 2013 - People with cataract-related vision
loss who have had cataract surgery to improve their sight are living
longer than those with visual impairment who chose not to have the
procedure, according to an Australian cohort study published this month
journal of the American
Academy of Ophthalmology. After comparing the two groups, the
researchers found a 40 percent lower long-term mortality risk in those
who had the surgery.
The research is drawn from data gathered in the
Blue Mountains Eye Study, a population-based cohort study of vision and
common eye diseases in an older Australian population.
Prevalence of Cataract
Impairment by Age, Race/Ethnicity, Sex 2010
A total of 354 persons aged 49 years and older and
diagnosed with cataract-related vision impairment – some of whom had
undergone surgery and others who had not – were assessed between 1992
Adjustments were made for age and gender as well as
a number of mortality risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes,
smoking, cardiovascular disease, body mass index and measures of frailty
and comorbid disease.
Follow-up visits took place after five and ten
years since the baseline exam.
Previous research had indicated that older persons
with visual impairment were likely to have greater mortality risk than
their age peers with normal vision, and that cataract surgery might
reduce this risk.
These studies – unlike the Blue Mountains Eye Study
– compared people who had undergone cataract surgery with those in the
general population or with those who had not had cataract surgery, and
did not link vision status to the surgical status.
“Our finding complements the previously documented
associations between visual impairment and increased mortality among
older persons,” said Jie Jin Wang, Ph.D., of the Westmead Millennium
Institute and one of lead researchers of the study.
“It suggests to ophthalmologists that correcting
cataract patients’ visual impairment in their daily practice results in
improved outcomes beyond that of the eye and vision, and has important
impacts on general health.”
The association between correction of
cataract-related visual impairment and reduced mortality risk is not
clearly understood, but plausible factors may include improvements in
physical and emotional well-being, optimism, greater confidence
associated with independent living after vision improvement, as well as
greater ability to comply with prescription medications.
Dr. Wang noted one limitation of the study is that
participants with cataract-related visual impairment who did not have
cataract surgery could have had other health problems that prevented
them from undergoing surgery, and that these other health problems could
partly explain the poorer survival among non-surgical participants. This
issue is addressed by the researchers in a subsequent study.
Caused by the clouding of the lens,
cataract is a leading cause of treatable visual impairment that will
affect more than half of all Americans by the time they are 80 years
old, according to
Prevent Blindness America.
Surgical removal of the opaque lens with an
artificial lens implanted is a successful procedure of cataract
treatment. If completing everyday tasks is difficult, cataract surgery
should be discussed with an ophthalmologist − a medical doctor
specializing in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye
diseases and conditions.
Seniors who are seeking eye care but are concerned
about cost may qualify for
EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the
American Academy of Ophthalmology, which offers eye exams and care at no
out-of-pocket cost to qualifying seniors age 65 and older. Learn more at
About the American Academy
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco,
is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye
M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is
provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists,
optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D.,
who has the education and training to treat it all: eye diseases,
infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information,
The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public
about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy
vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate
information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is
the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit
www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to
Ophthalmology, the official journal of the American
Academy of Ophthalmology, publishes original, peer-reviewed, clinically
applicable research. Topics include the results of clinical trials, new
diagnostic and surgical techniques, treatment methods technology
assessments, translational science reviews and editorials.
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