Can Cataract Surgery Prolong Your Life

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Michael J. Siegel, M.D.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, as highlighted in the New York Times Article  "Cataract Surgery May Prolong Your Life" showed the long term positive effects of cataract surgery on quality of life and life expectancy itself. The 20-year study, conducted among 74,044 women aged 65 and older, all of whom had cataracts, found a 60 percent lower risk of death among the 41,735 women who had their cataracts removed. 

Cataracts are the normal aging process of the natural crystalline lens of the eye and typically form gradually usually related to age. They are the most frequent cause of vision loss in people over 40. Common risk factors include exposure to ultraviolet radiation (excess sunlight), smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, prolonged use of corticosteroids and family history.

According to the main authors of the JAMA Study, Dr. Anne L. Coleman and colleagues at the Stein Eye Institute of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles - “Not only can cataract surgery give people a better life while they’re living it, they can also live more of it,” The women in the study who underwent cataract surgery lived longer even though most of the women in the study were sicker than average as a whole. Previous studies have shown a lower mortality risk in men as well as women following cataract surgery. As the authors discussed, this new data ”confirmed the earlier findings of fewer deaths in women, [but] was also large enough to show just how the operation can extend life. Those who had cataract surgery subsequently had reduced risks of death from cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological and infectious diseases, as well as cancer and accidents.’ Dr. Coleman continued to say that the thought is that when people see more clearly, “they can also move more and get more exercise. They can see their pills better and may be more likely to take them and take the right ones. The surgery also improves visual contrast, which decreases the risk of accidental deaths from falls or driving. It’s important to get the best vision a person can have.”

Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed operation in the United States, with more than three million Americans having cataracts removed each year. While not risk free, according to most publish data it has a 98% success rate. Depending on your situation it may greatly improve the quality of your vision and your day to day function. All of our doctors at Glaucoma Center of Michigan have been extensively trained in the most up-to-date techniques, utilizing the latest in lens technology and feel that modern cataract surgery, when appropriately performed, can in fact be life changing. To read more about the details of cataract surgery including premium lens options please read more here.

Frequently Asked Questions

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