Surveying 400 Vietnamese patients (aged 50 or more) with cataracts in both eyes, a recent study conducted in May of 2014 concluded that patients who had undergone cataract surgery in one eye fell 78% less than those who had not. While we’ve covered this topic in a previous post, this latest news brings home the importance of recognizing cataracts and their potentially fatal effects. Many patients whose blurred vision prevents normal activities such as reading or driving should give serious consideration to cataract surgery. However, they usually have the luxury of time.
Certainly, no one recommends unnecessary surgery to remove cataracts that don’t affect the ability of a patient to lead an active and productive life. When a patient begins stumbling or falling, however, it’s time to assess the effect of cataracts on issues greater than just their quality of life – ones that can seriously risk their health and longevity.
The statistics are sobering: One in every three adults age 65 or older falls. Causing anywhere from moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, these falls contribute to the risk of an early death that is largely preventable. Further complicating matters, one out of every three adults over the age of 65 falls but fails to report these incidents to their physicians. Other related statistics bear out the seriousness of this phenomenon:
- Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
- In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
- In 2010, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, were $30 billion. 20% to 30% of those who fall suffer injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries affect a patient’s ability to remain mobile or live independently, increasing their risk of early death.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
- Most fractures experienced by older adults are caused by falls.
- The most common were fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
- Many folks who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This anxiety may cause them to limit their activities, leading to reduced mobility and subsequent loss of physical fitness, actually contributing to their risk of falling.
Cataract surgery may raise fears, as well, but today’s technology involves a surgical procedure performed by Dr Silverman in less than 10 minutes, that can greatly minimize risk to life and limb. Furthermore, elderly patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimers benefit significantly from the procedure and vision tests may actually help in early detection of the disease.