Cataracts affect most older adults at risk for dementia, and now researchers are finding strong evidence that cataract surgery is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia.
The Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study is a long-standing, Seattle-based observational study at Kaiser Permanente Washington of more than 5,000 participants older than 65. Based on the longitudinal data of over 3,000 ACT study participants, researchers have now found that subjects who underwent cataract surgery had nearly 30% lower risk of developing dementia from any cause compared with those who did not. This lowered risk persisted for at least a decade after surgery. Cataract surgery was also associated with lower risk of Alzheimer disease dementia specifically.
Lead researcher Dr. Cecilia Lee, associate professor and Klorfine Family Endowed Chair in ophthalmology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said the observational study adjusted for a number of potential confounders, yet still yielded a strong association.
“This kind of evidence is as good as it gets in epidemiology,” Lee said. “This is really exciting because no other medical intervention has shown such a strong association with lessening dementia risk in older individuals.”