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Cataract Surgery Can Halt Cognitive Decline

December 6, 2018

The loss of mental acuity is a standard part of aging, but did you know that people who receive cataract surgery and hearing aids can significantly reduce the progression of cognitive decline by as much as 75 percent?

Two studies highlight the positive effects cataract surgery and hearing aids have on cognitive health. The first study, published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, compared 2,068 people who had cataract surgery with 3,636 who did not. The second study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, looked at the cognitive health of 2,040 participants before and after receiving hearing aids.

The link between cataract surgery, hearing aids, and cognitive health is not yet fully understood

“It’s not really certain why hearing and visual problems have an impact on cognitive decline, but I’d guess that isolation, stigma, and the resultant lack of physical activity that are linked to hearing and vision problems might have something to do with it,” said co-author of the cataract study, Dr. Piers Dawes.

Though more research is needed to better understand why these treatments correspond to improved cognitive health, the studies highlight how crucial it is to overcome the barriers that prevent people from undergoing cataract surgery and applying hearing aids.

Broad implications for those affected by cataracts and hearing loss

More than 50 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have cataracts and more than 10 percent experience hearing loss. (Hearing loss is most pronounced in people between the ages of  60 and 69.)

Since a significant portion of the population is affected by cataracts and hearing loss, access to treatment could mean that many millions of people could better preserve their cognitive function as they age.  

Additional benefits of cataract surgery

There is a wealth of research demonstrating cataract surgery has multiple benefits. An Australian study showed cataract surgery could reduce a senior’s risk of a car crash by 61 percent. Other studies have found it reduces mortality, falls and the odds of hip fractures, increases quality of life, and extends longevity.

Cataract formation and treatment

Cataract formation occurs when the lens of the eye becomes clouded and opaque due to protein build-up. In a healthy eye, the lens is transparent, letting light pass through into the retina, the light-sensitive tissue that lines the eye’s interior surface.

A healthy lens versus a cataract is like the difference between looking through the crystal clear glass used in regular window panes and the frosted translucent glass often used in sliding shower doors or bathroom windows to preserve privacy.

Cataracts surgery involves a tiny incision at the interface of the cornea and conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the outer surface of the eye. Then, using an ultrasound-emitting probe, the surgeon emulsifies the cataract, removes the old lens, and replaces it with a new artificial one.

Get caring, state-of-the-art cataract treatment at OCLI

At OCLI, we rely on the latest technology to deliver the highest quality of care to our valued patients. When it comes to cataract surgery, this means offering preoperative Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) as a value-added service.

Cataract surgery is one of our most commonly performed and rewarding eye procedures. It has one of the highest rates of satisfaction and brings significant improvement to our patients’ quality of life.

At OCLI, you’ll find advocates and partners in helping you and your loved ones see the world more clearly. To learn more about cataract surgery or other eye care services, contact us today and see why we’re known as New Jersey’s friendliest and most advanced vision health provider.

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