On a daily basis I see a wide variety of patients with many different ocular and systemic health conditions. One of the main eye-related issues I see and talk to my patients about it cataracts.
I get a wide range of emotions from patients when I tell them that their vision is hazy from cataracts, or that the difficulties they are having with glare at night are due to cataracts, or that they have the very early stages of cataracts developing; but they aren’t quite affecting their vision yet.
Most patients associate cataracts with a negative feeling; they feel like its just another thing that is reminding them that they are getting old.
I like to bring a positive spin on the cataract discussion with my patients. I let them know that although cataracts do typically go hand-in-hand with more birthdays, the technology that has surfaced around cataract surgery in the last few years is amazing!
It opens doors to options for vision correction and the potential to get rid of some of their reliance on glasses and contact lenses that they have had for many years!
Now I can also let them know that results of a recent study have shown that cataract surgery may actually prolong their life! Talk about turning their frown upside down!
Here are the basic conclusions of the study:
- A 20-year study, conducted among 74,044 women aged 65 and older, all of whom had cataracts, found a 60% lower risk of death among the 41,735 women who had their cataracts removed.
- These women who had cataract surgery lived longer even though they were overall sicker to begin with; they had more heart attacks, chronic pulmonary disease, peptic ulcers and glaucoma than those who did not have surgery.
- Those who had cataract surgery had reduced risks of death from cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological and infectious diseases, as well as cancer and accidents.
- Previous studies have also shown a lower mortality risk in men as well as women following cataract surgery.
- It is thought that the results of this study could be related to the fact that those people who can see better can move more and get more exercise.
- They can see their pills better and may be more likely to take the correct medications at the correct time.
- They also likely have less accidents from falls or driving since their contrast sensitivity is improved.
So when your patients get bummed out when you start to discuss the need for cataract surgery, remind them of this study! Of course there are always risks to a surgical procedure that may make someone hesitant to undergo a procedure… but remind them that it can potentially extend their life!
Here is a link to the study if you’re interested in more information, click here: Association of Cataract Surgery With Mortality in Older Women, THE JAMA NETWORK.