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Cataract Surgery May Not Lead To Age-Related Macular Degeneration

November 20, 2012

New study shows there is no apparent risk of AMD following cataract surgery.

Any major surgical procedure comes with a certain amount of possible risks and side effects. For patients who are undergoing eye surgery, these side effects could involve minor irritation or soreness following the surgery, or sometimes even larger risks depending on just how complicated and serious the procedure may be.

Luckily for most patients undergoing procedures such as LASIK or cataract surgery, the chance of developing these side effects continues to decline with the constant advancement in research and laser technology.

One particular vision side effect that has always been highly debated in the field of vision correction is the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) following cataract surgery. AMD occurs when there is a deterioration or breakdown of the eye’s macula―the small area in the retina . The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly.

Researchers have always believed that the connection between AMD and cataract surgery was potentially due to the increased light exposure following the procedure―specifically blue light, which is not shielded when a lens is removed or replaced during surgery.

Newer implantable lenses have even adopted blue-light filters as a way to decrease the risk of progression to late-stage AMD following the procedure. However, new research shows that while cataract surgery may be associated with early changes in indicators of the disease, it does not appear to actually increase the risk of AMD among post-cataract surgery patients.

According to a report written by Paul Mitchell, MD, PhD, of the University of Sydney, and colleagues in the November issue of Ophthalmology, there was no increased risk of developing late or early AMD or reticular drusen in a 3-year interim analysis of a 5-year prospective cohort trial.

To look further into the possible associations between cataract surgery and progression of AMD, Mitchell and colleagues conducted the Australian Cataract Surgery and Age-related Macular Degeneration (CSAMD) study, following 1,851 patients who had cataract surgery at Westmead Hospital in Sydney.

Among the cohort, 308 patients at risk of late AMD and 217 patients at risk of early AMD remained unilaterally phakic for at least 24 months. Of those 308 patients, late AMD developed in 1.3% of operated eyes and in 2.3% of non-operated eyes after adjusting for presence of early AMD at baseline. Of the 217 patients at risk of early AMD, the condition developed in 10.6% of operated eyes and in 9.7% of non-operated eyes. Both studies proved that there was not a significant difference between the two eyes.

This study is very reassuring for individuals with AMD who have been apprehensive about whether or not their AMD would progress due to the intervention of cataract surgery for vision rehabilitation. However, all possible side effects and risks of cataract surgery should still be discussed with an eye doctor before undergoing the procedure.

To schedule your free vision consultation or to learn more about whether or not you are a good candidate for cataract surgery, be sure to contact OCLI today at (973) 560-1500.


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