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Cataract Surgery May Assist Those With Alzheimer’s Disease

November 1, 2011

Recent studies show that Alzheimer’s patients may benefit from cataract surgery.

As our minds and bodies begin to mature, we become more susceptible to common problems and diseases that come with age. Some of these problems may be genetically programmed inside of our bodies as illness or disease that runs in our family, while others may be caused by certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking, poor health or other related diseases.

However, no matter what the reason or cause behind age-related health problems, it can be scary trying to understand and prepare for the changes of growing older, especially when it relates to troubling diseases that can significantly affect your mind and your cognitive thinking.

One particular disease, Alzheimer’s, can prompt a number of difficult problems that not only affect a person’s health and mind, but also can impact their ability to perform daily tasks. For instance, some of the most common warning signs that come with Alzheimer’s Disease include memory loss, trouble planning or solving problems, difficulty completing tasks and the inability to retrace your steps.

In the last few years, Alzheimer’s Disease has also been closely related to both vision problems and helpful eye tests that may help to discover early warning signs of the disease before noticeable symptoms form. These tests focus on the fact that Alzheimer’s Disease is closely related to vision difficulties, such as problems judging distance, determining color of contrast and difficulty reading.

However, these are not the only vision problems that may surface in an older patient who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Cataracts disease is also a common trait that has been seen frequently in those who are diagnosed with the disease, mostly because it is a vision problem that is common in people over the age of 40, which is most Alzheimer’s patients.

The formation of cataracts can occur when the eye’s natural lens begins to cloud and distort vision. This is caused by protein fibers which are held behind our eye’s lens, which begin to break down and cluster together over time. When clouding becomes denser and covers a larger area of the lens, cataract surgery becomes necessary to restore clear vision.

However, recent studies have shown that, for those who suffer from both Alzheimer’s Disease and cataracts, surgery can not only help to improve vision problems caused by this age-related eye disease, but it can also improve interaction and lessen depression in those who suffer from common Alzheimer’s symptoms.

This study, which was presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2011 Annual Meeting, tested older individuals who suffered from cataracts (aged 85-90 years old) and found that this vision surgery significantly improved visual acuity, behavior (especially sleep patterns), and lessened depression, especially in patients with mild dementia.

While this research on Alzheimer’s Disease and cataract surgery is still in its early stages and the results are continuing to be studied, it is a great step in the right direction when it comes to improving the overall quality of life and comfort in patients who suffer from dementia and cataracts.

In the mean time, seniors who suffer from common age-related vision problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration or glaucoma should be sure to schedule regular eye examinations with their vision specialist in order to ensure that their eye care and vision is being taken care of properly. To learn more about these problems, along with more information about senior vision, schedule your free vision consultation with OCLI today.

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