SUBSCRIBE NOW Just 99¢ for your first month

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Health Fusion: Cataract surgery may reduce your risk of dementia, new study shows

If you have cataracts, surgery to remove them may do a lot more than improve your vision. It also may reduce your chances of getting dementia. Viv Williams delivers details of a new study in this episode of "Health Fusion" for NewsMD.

We are part of The Trust Project.

Cataract removal surgery is associated with a 30% lower risk of dementia for older people. That's what researchers from the University of Washington found in a new study .

They looked at more than 3,000 people aged 65 and older who were already enrolled in a study about aging. After analyzing the data, they found that people who had surgery to remove their cataracts had a 30% lower risk of developing dementia -- Alzheimer's disease specifically -- than those who did not have the surgery. Plus, they found that the risk stayed lower for at least 10 years.

“This kind of evidence is as good as it gets in epidemiology,” says Dr. Cecilia Lee , an ophthalmologist at the University of Washington. “This is really exciting because no other medical intervention has shown such a strong association with lessening dementia risk in older individuals.”

The researchers did not study how or why the reduced risk happens. But they say it may have to do with people getting a higher quality of sensory input after cataract surgery. Or that people get more blue light after cataract removal. Lee says cells in the eye associated with sleep cycles and cognition respond well to blue light.

Cataracts cause your vision to get cloudy or blurry. Colors might seem dull. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website includes information about cataracts and notes that cataracts are common, especially among the elderly, and approximately half of all people age 80 and older have them or have had surgery to remove them. Cataracts usually happen as part of the aging process when proteins in the lens of your eye break down and clump together. You can sometimes notice when someone has them because there might be a little glint in their eye, as is there's a prism in there refracting light.

ADVERTISEMENT

Researchers of the new study about cataracts and risk of dementia say more research into the eye-brain connection could reveal additional ways to slow or prevent age-related dementia.

The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine .

Follow the Health Fusion podcast on Apple , Spotify , and Google Podcasts.

For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

Health_Fusion-1400x1400-Sponsor.jpg
Health Fusion logo Sponsor 1400x1400

What to read next
Delores Alleckson, a nurse practitioner at Essentia Health in Detroit Lakes, often sees people with a variety of mood disorders. Alleckson said some disorders require medications, while others can be addressed with dietary changes, or a combination of both.
"Minding Our Elders" columnist Carol Bradley Bursack says the loss of a spouse or partner is sometimes enough to exacerbate the survivor's own health issues so a disease that may have become manageable for a time becomes the official cause of death.
Parents and guardians across the country are struggling to find formula for their children, facing empty shelves and their children’s hungry bellies. Sanford Pediatrician Dr. Colleen Swank shares advice for parents during the ongoing formula shortage.
Experts say obstetrics and gynecology training programs in so-called "abortion refugee" states such as Minnesota will be needed to serve an increase of out-of-state physicians seeking training in abortion care as part of an accredited program. Mayo and UMN offer the only such residencies in Minnesota.