Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cataract Surgery and Falls

You will often hear a SkyVision Centers doctor talk about the benefits of having both eyes treated surgically to remove cataracts when they have each reached a point where removing them would be considered medically necessary. Many years ago a young researcher from Dr. White's training program, Jonathan Javitt, did landmark research that showed a clear safety benefit and improved health measures in older women who had their second eye surgery done compared with those who only had one cataract removed. It turns out that people really DO see better when both of their eyes have the best possible vision.

A new, equally important study has just been published in the Journal of the American Medical Society that shows a decrease in the frequency that older individuals have hip fractures if they have had cataract surgery. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it: our most important sensory cues about balance come from our eyes. If we do not see well we then become more sensitive to other problems with balance like poor circulation to the balance centers of the brain, or aging changes in the inner ear.

This large retrospective review evaluated the incidence of hip fractures within a year of cataract surgery in a random sample of Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older diagnosed with a cataract from 2002 to 2009. Overall, those who had cataracts removed had 16 percent fewer hip fractures than those who declined surgery. Older patients (aged 80 to 84) and those with significant comorbidities (other diseases) experienced the most significant benefit, with 28 percent fewer hip fractures compared to equally sick patients who did not have surgery. And those who had severe cataracts removed had 23 percent fewer hip fractures than those with severe cataracts who declined surgery.


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