Cataract Surgery Cuts Risk of Early Death In Older Women

Older women with cataract can reduce their risk of death from any cause and from certain specific causes by undergoing cataract surgery, reveals a surprising new research.

The study is based on an analysis of data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a nationwide study of postmenopausal women in the United States aged between 50 and 79 years. The study is conducted by senior study author Anne L. Coleman, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues.

The team found that as many as 74,044 women aged 65 and over in the WHI study had been diagnosed with cataracts. Of them, 41,735 had undergone the operations to remove cataract.

After reviewing the data, Coleman and her team found that apart from enjoying better vision, older women who had underwent cataract surgery were 60 percent less likely to die prematurely from any cause.

The analysis of the data showed that having had the operations for the said eye condition significantly lowered the older women’s odds of dying early from diseases including heart disease, cancer, and dementia as well as also from accidents and infectious, and vascular diseases. More precisely, cataract surgery was tied to 37 percent to 69 percent reduced risk of death from aforementioned specific causes.

To be specific, having surgery to remove the cataracts was found to slash the risk of deaths from cancer by 70 percent and heart disease by 58 percent. Likewise, the odds of dying in an accident were reduced by 56 percent and from an infection by 56 percent.

Although the findings are impressive but the study authors said more research is needed in future to establish a strong link between the cataract surgery and reduced risk of early death.

“In older women with cataract in the WHI, cataract surgery is associated with lower risk for total and cause-specific mortality, although whether this association is explained by the intervention of cataract surgery is unclear,” the researchers said.

“Further study of the interplay of cataract surgery, systemic disease, and disease-related mortality would be informative for improved patient care,” they added.

The team, however, stressed that some previous studies have also shown the link between cataract surgery and lower risk of death. For instance, there are some studies that show people who undergo cataract surgery are less prone to fall and fracture, while some others have demonstrated that patients have higher cognitive function post cataract surgery.

Their findings were published in medical journal JAMA Ophthalmology.