There are nearly 2 million cataract surgeries performed in the US each year which places cataract extraction as one of the most common procedures. A cataract is a cloudy lens that develops within the eye as a person ages. The cloudy lens can cause blurred vision, glare especially at nighttime and distortion in the perception of colors. Most people start to develop cataracts around the age of 50 and they continue to progress through their lifetime. Some people, however, can be born with cataracts or they can develop them before the age of 50 due to systemic comorbidities or medication use.
Cataract surgery removes the cloudy lens that develops within the eye and allows for the implantation of a clear lens to allow for clearer and more precise vision. This surgery can improve a person’s quality of life as it can lead to fewer falls and improved sight and coordination. New research published by the JAMA Internal Medicine, has developed which shows a decreased incidence of dementia development.
Within the new study, about 3,000 patients with cataracts, 65 years and older, with no signs of dementia at the time of cataract diagnosis were enrolled in the study. About 1,300 of the patients had cataract surgery and the rest did not. The research revealed that the overall risk of dementia was twenty nine percent lower for those that had cataract surgery versus those who did not. Glaucoma surgery, which does not improve vision but can prevent further vision loss, had no effect on dementia risk. The glaucoma surgery component of the research was used to see if eye surgery in general decreases dementia risk.
The study links to earlier studies that show vision loss and hearing loss are important risk factors for cognitive decline. Those who have trouble hearing and/or seeing may not participate in social events, exercise and reading which are tied to an increased risk of dementia. With cataract development, the visual cortex, which is the area in the brain that processes visual information, gets less stimulation which can lead to shrinkage of the brain structure, which is also a risk factor for dementia.
It is important to have a complete eye exam every year in order to check the status of your eye health as well as check for cataract progression. If you would like to further discuss cataracts or would like to see the status of cataract development, call 860-233-2020 to make an appointment with one of our eye care specialists today. We hope to see you soon!