Gray star surgery can reduce the risk of developing dementia by almost 30%, the study shows
- People who get cataract surgery are 30% less likely to get dementia, experts say
- A study of more than 3,000 over the age of 65 found that reduced risk lasts for at least a decade
- Experts believe that removal increases blue light, which is associated with brain function
Older people undergoing cataract surgery are 30 percent less likely to develop dementia, research shows.
Researchers from the University of Washington came to the conclusion after tracking more than 3,000 over 65.
None of the participants, who were tracked for nearly a decade, had the memory-plaguing disorder when the study began.
The results, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, did not determine how general surgery reduced the risk of dementia. But researchers say it could be due to cataracts blocking key cells from receiving ‘blue light’.
Blue light can reactivate cells in the retina associated with cognition and regulate sleep, experts said.
Leading researcher Dr. Cecilia Lee said: ‘This kind of evidence is as good as it gets in epidemiology.
“This is really exciting because no other medical intervention has shown such a strong association with reducing the risk of dementia in older individuals.”
The academics said the findings highlight the need for further research into how the connection between the eyes and the brain affects dementia.
Cataracts are blurred spots on the lens of the eye, which usually develop as a result of aging.
More than 300,000 cataract surgeries are performed annually in the UK, while more than 2 million are performed in the United States.
Meanwhile, more than 850,000 Britons and 6.2 million Americans are estimated to suffer from dementia.
Cataracts are blurred spots on the lens of the eye, which usually develop as a result of aging. They usually get worse over time, and surgery is the only way for patients to improve their vision (stock)
WHAT IS STAND?
Cataracts are when the lens of your eye, a small transparent disc, develops blurred spots.
Young people wear lenses that are usually like clear glass.
But among older people, the lenses start to get frosted, like bathroom glass, and start to limit vision.
Cataracts most often affect adults as a result of aging.
Cataract surgery involves replacing the blurred lens inside the eye with an artificial one.
The operation takes about 45 minutes, and it can take 2 to 6 weeks to fully recover after cataract surgery.
The benefits of surgery include seeing things in focus, looking into bright light and not seeing as much glare and seeing difference in colors.
But the risk of surgery, which occurs in about one in 50 cases, includes blurred vision, some vision loss and a detached retina – when the thin layer at the back of your eye loosens.
Researchers monitored 3,038 volunteers who had been diagnosed with cataracts or glaucoma. Participants had a mean age of 74 years.
Nearly half of the volunteers (1,382) had undergone surgery to remove cataracts, a procedure that lasts 45 minutes and involves removing the blurred lens in the eye and replacing it with an artificial one.
The researchers followed the participants for an average of eight years and discovered 853 cases of dementia.
The team found that those who had their cataracts removed were 29 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia compared to those who did not have surgery after checking for other health and demographic factors.
The risk was lowest in the first five years after surgery, where those who chose surgery were 32 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia compared to the subsequent five years, when the risk was 24 percent less.
The team said those who did not have cataract surgery may have been more socially isolated because of their visual impairment, which led to reduced brain stimulation, which could increase the risk of dementia.
Cataracts usually get worse over time, and surgery is the only way for patients to improve their vision.
And visual impairment can lead to patients cutting back on how much exercise they exercise, which is associated with cognitive decline, they said.
Or the procedure may lower the risk of dementia by allowing more blue light – which is associated with improved cognitive function – when cataracts are removed.
Dr. Lee said: ‘Some special cells in the retina are associated with cognition and regulate sleep cycles, and these cells respond well to blue light.
‘Cataracts specifically block blue light, and cataract surgery could reactivate these cells.’
But they said more studies are needed to confirm exactly how the procedure reduces the risk of dementia.
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