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Cataracts and Dementia: People undergoing eye surgery have a lower risk of brain condition

Laser surgery for the treatment of cataracts

IMANE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Elderly people who have had cataract surgery to improve their eyesight are less likely to develop dementia afterwards.

The effect may be that people who have lost their eyesight usually spend more time at home and less psychologically irritated. Or it could be due to the strange effect that cataracts have on the color that reaches the retina behind the eyes.

Cataracts, where the crystalline lens of the eye becomes cloudy with age, are one of the following most common causes: Vision loss in the elderly.. The lens can be fixed by surgically removing it and replacing it with a plastic one.

Blindness is already known to be a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Cecilia Lee At the University of Washington in Seattle, I wondered if cataract surgery had a significant correlation with the incidence of dementia.

She and her team used an ongoing US study that began in the 1990s and aimed at identifying risk factors for dementia. They examined the health records of about 3,000 participants over the age of 65 who had either cataracts or glaucoma (another eye condition treated by surgery). This was used as a comparison.

Over the next eight years, people who had cataracts removed had an average 71% chance of developing dementia compared to those who did not treat cataracts.

Because it was not a randomized trial, this study could not prove that cataract surgery was protected from dementia. For example, if you are healthy from the beginning, people are likely to be advised to have surgery. However, there was no significant difference in the incidence of dementia between those who had surgery and those who did not, suggesting that cataract surgery was certainly protective.

Surgery can reduce the risk of dementia by “allowing higher quality sensory input to the retina and thus improving stimulation of the brain,” Lee says.

Another idea is that cataracts filter out blue light, which interferes with light sensing. Cells behind the eyes that are particularly sensitive to blue light And it helps to manage our body clock. This can disrupt the normal circadian rhythm. Previously associated with dementia..

“Cataracts affect the overall quality of light that reaches the retina, including blue light, so cataract surgery may allow reactivation of these cells in a way that prevents cognitive decline. There is, “says Lee. “There are still many things I don’t understand.”

Journal reference: JAMA Internal Medicine, DOI: 10.1001 / jamainternmed.2021.6990

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Cataracts and Dementia: People undergoing eye surgery have a lower risk of brain condition

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