According to a huge new study of 74,044 women age 65 and older, all of whom had cataracts, the 41,735 women who had their cataracts removed had a 60% lower risk of death than those women who did not.[i]
A cataract is a clouding of the lens which forms gradually with age and is the most frequent cause of vision loss for people over 40. Cataract surgery in which the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a new lens is the most common solution to cataracts and is the most frequently performed operation in the US. In fact it is considered one of the most successful surgery in the US today with over a 98% success rate.
Not only does cataract surgery improve vision, it appears to improve longevity. When people can see better, “they can move and get more exercise”, according to Dr. Anne L. Coleman, one of the study’s authors. Visual contrast improves so they are more likely to take their medications correctly and avoid accidents, whether from falling or during driving.
Dr. Koster of NY Vision Group advises not to wait too long once a cataract develops. The longer you wait, the more dense the cataract becomes and the more difficult the operation to remove it. Furthermore, he notes, the sooner you have cataract surgery the sooner you can take advantage of the quality of life improvements Dr. Coleman mentions.
Recent advances in cataract surgery have made the procedure safer, faster and more effective. What used to be a surgery done under general anesthesia in a hospital is now down on an outpatient basis in a procedure lasting approximately 10 minutes. Moreover, new lens options allow for multifocal vision or the correction of astigmatism.
Association of Cataract Surgery with Mortality in Older Women. Victoria L. Tseng, MD, Ph.D.; Rowan T. Chlewboski, MD; Fei Yu. Ph.D.; et al JAMA Ophthalmology 2018;126 doi/JAMA ophthalmology.2017.4512