New study finds that those who have cataract surgery to correct visual impairment live longer than those who do not have the surgery

Previous studies have shown that older persons with cataract-related visual impairment likely have a greater mortality risk than their peers who have normal vision – and that cataract surgery might reduce that risk.

New research from Australia has confirmed this in a study that compared people over the age of 49 years who have cataract-related vision loss and have cataract surgery to correct this, and those similarly-aged who have the same type of vision loss, but did not have the surgery. The study found that there is a 40 percent lower long-term mortality risk in those who had the surgery.

Vision Simulator: Cataracts

Happy older couple

The research was drawn from data gathered in the Blue Mountains Eye Study, which examined vision and common eye diseases in an older Australian population. Adjustments were made for age and gender as well as a number of mortality risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, heart disease and body mass index.

The association between correction of cataract-related vision problems and reduced mortality risk is not clearly understood. Possible factors may include improvements in physical and emotional well-being, optimism and greater confidence associated with independent living after vision improvement.

More about cataract surgery

Cataract is the clouding of the lens in the eye and is a leading cause of treatable vision problems that will affect more than half of all Americans by the time they are 80 years old. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. This procedure should be considered and discussed with an ophthalmologist if completing everyday tasks is difficult.

Seniors who are seeking eye care but are concerned about cost may qualify for help from EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. EyeCare America offers eye exams and care at no out-of-pocket cost to qualifying seniors age 65 and older.

See also: Cataract Myths Debunked

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