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Cataract Surgery Tied to Lower Risk of Death in Women

Created on: Wednesday, March 07, 2018 
Author: Eye Associates Surgi Center of Vineland

A large health study analyzing older women has found that those with cataracts who underwent cataract surgery had a lower risk of death from any cause as well as certain specific causes. 

Eye Associates reported the findings, which drew on data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology. The WHI is a nationwide study of postmenopausal women in the United States aged between 50 and 79 years. The team also explained that previous studies have shown that, as well as enjoying better vision, individuals with cataracts who have cataract surgery also seem to have a lower risk of dying prematurely.

“A cataract is an eye condition that is common in older people,” said Dr. Tyson (Cataract Surgeon and President of Eye Associates.) “It develops when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, resulting in loss of sharpness and blurring of vision. To see clearly, the lens — which focuses light onto the retina — should be transparent.”

More than half of U.S. adults older than 80 have a cataract or have had cataract surgery, which is a normally straightforward procedure that replaces the damaged lens with an artificial one. The WHI database — which contains information on total and cause-specific deaths — is also linked to the Medicare claims database. This allowed the researchers to select data on WHI participants aged 65 and over who had been diagnosed with cataract. The WHI data covered the period from the start of 1993 to the end of 2015.

The scientists found that the WHI contained 74,044 women aged 65 and over, aged 71, on average, who had been diagnosed with cataracts. This number included 41,735 women who had undergone cataract surgery. When they analyzed the data, the team found that having had cataract surgery was linked to a 60 percent lower risk of death from all causes.

They also found that cataract surgery was tied to reduced risk of death from specific causes that ranged from 37 percent to 69 percent. The specific causes were cancer as well as pulmonary, accidental, neurologic, infectious, and vascular diseases. The authors note that because the study was limited to women, it does mean that the findings might be true for men.

Additional studies have offered explanations for the link between cataract surgery and lower risk of death. For example, some research has shown that people who have cataract surgery have a “lower risk for fall and fracture,” while other studies have found that patients have “higher scores on standardized cognition assessments after cataract surgery.”

“We are urging our patients who have been diagnosed with cataracts to get them taken care of sooner rather than later. Studies such as these showing the overall healthier outcome of those having had cataract surgery only extenuate reasons to make the appointment for your cataract surgery,” said Dr. Tyson. “With our Dropless IV Free Cataract Surgery and Custom IOL lenses- our patients are seeing better than ever!”