Cataract surgery to correct visual impairment helps elderly live longer

By: Devon Andre | Eye Health | Thursday, September 08, 2016 - 02:00 PM

cataract surgery to correct visual impairmentCataract surgery to correct visual impairment can help the elderly live longer, according to research findings. The data was taken from the Blue Mountains Eye study, where 354 persons over the age of 49 were diagnosed with cataract-related vision problems. Some of the patients had undergone cataract surgery, while others had not.

One of the lead researchers Jie Jin Wang, Ph.D., said, “Our finding complements the previously documented associations between visual impairment and increased mortality among older persons. 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.”

How or why cataract surgery to correct vision can improve longevity is unclear, but it may be due to the fact that patients who can see better can engage in more physical activity and enjoy greater quality of life and self-confidence.

Cataracts cause visual impairments due to the clouding of the lens. In cataract surgery, the lens is removed and an artificial one is implemented. If cataracts are causing you daily challenges, you should speak to your doctor about undergoing cataract surgery.

Dizziness in patients who undergo cataract surgery reduced: Previous study

Older adults with visual impairment often report dizziness, but a recent study found it can improve with cataract surgery. Senior author David Elliott, M.D., said, “Dizziness is caused by lots of factors, but the results indicate that cataract surgery removes symptoms of dizziness for some people, so it is an important intervention to consider.”

Switching to multifocal glasses post-surgery may be why some patients did not experience reduction of dizziness. Prof. Elliot explained, “Multifocals are very convenient, but the results of the study suggest that older, frail patients – who are at greater risk of falling – shouldn’t wear multifocals after cataract surgery if possible.”

The worst case scenario is that patients wear the multifocals before the first eye surgery and stop wearing them until the second eye surgery, which can further increase dizziness and falls. Prof. Elliot concluded, “That seems to be too much change, and these people would be better wearing the multifocals throughout and not swapping back and forth.”

The findings were published in Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics.

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