In a recent American Academy of Ophthalmology online article, 3 Surprising Benefits of Cataract Surgery, one of those benefits suggests that cataract removal may help improve dementia.
The article states that “the link between vision loss and dementia has been the focus of recent studies” and that “a new report makes a compelling case that cataract removal reduces the risk of developing dementia.”
According to John A. Hovanesian, MD, a clinical instructor at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles, “Cataract surgery allows people to use their visual sense with greater awareness and more involvement in their surroundings. When you have better visual acuity, you stimulate parts of the brain that help keep it functioning at a normal level.”
The study followed more than 3,000 older adults diagnosed with glaucoma or cataracts for 24 years. “Those who had cataract surgery were nearly 30% less likely than others to develop dementia, even after accounting for level of education, race, health history and access to healthcare.”
The article also included two other interesting benefits: life gets more fun after cataract surgery and cataract treatment prevents injuries from falls. Dr. Hovanesian states that cataract surgery “can allow patients to do things they haven’t in years” and “sometimes it creates abilities that people didn’t have before”. In addition, the article notes that about 1 in 3 falls occur in older people who wear bifocal or multifocal glasses, and that people are less likely to need these types of spectacles after cataract surgery.
So, it appears there might be compelling evidence that simply seeing better after cataract surgery can lead to several benefits beyond just seeing better. This makes getting regular eye exams starting at age 40 even more important. Developing a cataract is a fact of life for most of us as we get older. Catching it early, and having a reputable cataract surgeon in your corner can make all the difference.
Association of Vision Impairment With Cognitive Decline Across Multiple Domains in Older Adults – American Medical Association JAMA Network website.
Bidirectional Association between Visual Impairment and Dementia Among Older Adults in the United States Over Time – American Academy of Ophthalmology.