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Senior Vision: Can Cataracts Lead To Hip Fractures In Seniors?

August 9, 2012

Having cataract surgery may help to reduce your chance of hip fractures.

Our vision plays a large role in our overall health and wellness as we get older. Not only does strong visual functioning help with our day-to-day tasks, such as community activities or nighttime driving, but it also improves our mental health and overall life satisfaction.  However, just as strong, healthy vision can significantly improve our quality of life, poor vision can do just the opposite.

Vision impairment is a large influencer over poor depth perception and contrast sensitivity, and we often rely on our vision quite a lot to help balance ourselves. Therefore, when our vision quality starts to decrease as we get older―usually due to the onset of cataracts which are a common occurrence as we enter our senior years―our eyesight can actually play a part in accidents and injuries such as hip fractures, which are very common in elderly individuals.

Cataract Simulation [Left: Healthy Eye, Right: Eye with Cataract]

In fact, bone fractures and the falls that often cause them are one of the major causes of disability and death among seniors. Researchers even claim that fall-related injuries cost the United States more than $10 billion in health care costs. So, could vision-improving procedures such as cataract surgery be just what we need to prevent falls or breaks in older adults? Many surveys are now suggesting so.

Because vision impairment is a known risk factor for falls, especially among the elderly, a few studies have began looking at the effect of cataract surgery on the risk of falls and hip fractures among visually impaired adults. However, before you can understand the benefits that this procedure can have on those with vision disability, it is first important to understand cataracts as a whole.

A cataract is caused by the clouding of the eye’s lens, which can often occur during old age. The results of this clouding means a significant loss in vision, and several side effects such as difficulty seeing at night, blurred vision or difficulty with glare. To help with this vision problem, more than three million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the United States, and the procedure can significantly enhance the quality of life for those affected.

However, one additional benefit of cataract surgery that many scientists are just now starting to discover is that helping older individuals see more clearly may also help to lower their risk of falls and potentially disabling hip fractures. In fact, a new study shows that having surgery to correct cataracts may reduce the risk of hip fractures among seniors by up to 23%.

The same survey also accounted for the older age and worse general health of people who got cataract surgery, but still found that those individuals had a 16% lower chance of fracturing a hip and a 5% lower risk of all fractures compared to people who opted against surgery.

Therefore, cataract surgery may not only be a smart, cost-effective intervention for visual improvement, but it could also save you from future injury down the line. To learn more about the many benefits of cataract surgery, be sure to contact the OCLI office today to schedule your free consultation.


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