cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is a common procedure that is carried out on approximately 330,000 people each year in England alone. Over the years, it has become a safe and highly effective procedure for helping patients regain their eyesight and independence. Now, new research suggests that the surgery could also help prevent dementia in patients.

The latest study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, shows patients who undergo surgery for their cataracts are 29% less likely to develop dementia than those who don’t. Here, we will look at what the latest study found and how cataract surgery may help prevent dementia.

Understanding the latest study

The latest study assessed just over 3000 patients to see whether cataract surgery had any impact on the risk of dementia. The patients had each been diagnosed with either cataracts or glaucoma. They discovered that cataract patients who had the surgery were at a 29% lower risk of developing dementia than those who didn’t have the surgery. Patients with glaucoma had the same dementia risk whether or not they underwent surgery to correct it.

The results of the study aren’t likely to have been influenced by access to healthcare or a difference in health. The researchers factored these in and didn’t identify any changes in the results.

These latest findings are compelling, though further research does need to be carried out on a more diverse range of patients. Over 90% of the study participants were white, and they each had access to healthcare such as cataract surgery.

Why might cataract surgery prevent dementia?

While the latest research shows cataract surgery can reduce the risk of dementia, it didn’t reveal why. There are some theories, however, including:

  • Depression
  • Limited physical activity
  • Sensory deprivation hypothesis

When there is reduced sensory input to the brain, it can lead to sensory deprivation hypothesis. This in turn reduces brain stimulation, leading to decreased brain function. After surgery, MRI scans have shown an improvement in brain function.

Patients with cataracts can find it difficult to keep up with physical activity when their vision is impaired. A lack of physical activity can cause havoc with our physical and mental health, including increasing the risk of dementia.

Finally, some experts believe that depression may play a role. When patients start to lose their vision due to cataracts, it can lead to depression. This in turn increases the risk of dementia.

These are just some of the theories that link cataracts and dementia. Whatever the connection is, this latest study shows that cataract surgery can help to reverse the risk.

Am I suitable for cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a common, effective procedure to restore vision loss and improve quality of life. However, it might not be the best option for everyone. There isn’t an upper age limit on when the surgery can be performed, and the surgery can be carried out during the early stages of the condition.

To find out if cataract surgery could be the best option for you, book a consultation with Mr Shalchi today.