couple with cataracts

While cataract surgery can no longer be tied to a longer lifespan for women, it’s still worth getting.

Last year, a paper published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology claimed that women who underwent cataract surgery lived longer lives than women who didn’t. At face value, the evidence seemed strong: the study looked at outcomes for more than 70,000 women, and the data indicated that women who had the surgery were 60% less likely to die during the study period than other study subjects. Unfortunately, it appears that the claim was likely too good to be true — the authors of the original study issued a retraction last month.

According to its authors, the original study failed to account for the elapsed time between diagnosis and surgery. Once they accounted for that difference, the supposed effect on life expectancy vanished. However, that by no means indicates that patients shouldn’t receive the surgery.

Why Cataract Surgery is Still a Good Idea

Cataracts occur when the lens in the front of the eye, which is usually transparent and flexible, becomes so thick and yellow that it can no longer properly form images. That causes impaired vision, which can substantially lower quality of life — just ask anyone who has tried to get around without their eyeglasses for a day or two.

Cataract surgery corrects for vision impairment by implanting the lens with a clear, flexible artificial replacement. This results in significant visual improvements, which studies show greatly — and quickly — increases the quality of life.

One such study asked over 100 patients to fill out a post-surgery questionnaire called the Glasgow Benefit Inventory (GBI) and found that patients consistently reported substantial improvements in quality of life, even just a few weeks after receiving surgery.

A similar study included over 400 patients, examining “vision-related quality of life” (VRQOL) on the basis of objective visual measures such as binocular contrast sensitivity, stereopsis, and visual acuity. The researchers performing this study found that “cataract surgery significantly improved VRQOL among bilateral cataract patients.”

Although patients who undergo cataract surgery may not end up living longer, they do live better — their quality of life improves along with their vision. Cataract surgery is also covered by most insurance, and among the safest and most effective procedures performed today, so there’s nothing to hold you back from improving your vision and lifestyle.

If you’re interested in cataract surgery or think you may be developing cataracts, contact ICON Eyecare to make an appointment today.  

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