by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  November 18, 2014 at 12:59 PM Health In Focus
 Overall Mortality Improves After Surgery for Age-Related Cataract: Study
Cataract surgery for age-related cataract may improve overall mortality in the affected individuals. Cataract is easily one of the leading causes of visual impairment including blindness in older individuals.

Fortunately, cataract surgery has been able to overcome this problem. Surgeries are now routinely done with minimal hospital stay and complications. A recently published paper pooled data from different studies to find out if age-related cataract and the surgery for it were associated with an increase in mortality long term.

Empowering Better Health

The researchers found that age-related cataract was found to be associated with an increase in the long-term mortality. This was true for all types of age-related cataract but particularly significant for nuclear cataract. Thus, it may be possible to correlate the appearance of cataract at an older age with other illnesses that can reduce the life span of a patient. For example, nuclear cataract may be a result of reduced antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants are also necessary for other organ functions including that of the brain. Thus, a reduction in antioxidant levels could affect brain function and contribute to increase in mortality. Other forms of cataract, that is, cortical and posterior subcapsular cataract were also associated with increased mortality but to a lesser extent than nuclear cataract.

However, after patients had undergone cataract surgery, the researchers found that the risk of long-term mortality was not increased. This could be due to the fact that after cataract surgery, people tend to be more aware and take better care of their health. They may also have better access to health care facilities.

This study thus emphasizes the importance of regular eye examination in older individuals to detect cataract. Early detection of cataract could lead to early surgery, which may subsequently play a role in increasing the lifespan of the patient.

Facts about Cataract

  • Cataract occurs due to clouding of the lens of the eye.
  • Though commonly associated with old age, cataract can also affect the young. In fact, some children suffer from cataract from birth, a condition which is called congenital cataract.
  • Diabetes and smoking predisposes an individual to developing cataract.
  • Foods rich in antioxidants like green leafy vegetables and fruit may help to delay cataract.
  • Other eye problems that may affect vision should be ruled out before undergoing cataract surgery to ensure success of the surgery.

Cataract Surgery - Procedure

Surgery is an effective way to treat cataract that affects vision. During surgery, the affected lens is removed and is replaced by an artificial clear lens. Common procedures used in cataract surgery are as below:
  • Phacoemulsification is a procedure where the lens is softened and is removed by suction. This procedure can be done with a small surgical incision.
  • Extracapsular surgery involves removal of the cloudy part of the lens in one piece. The incision required for this procedure is longer than that required for phacoemulsification.
  • Laser cataract surgery uses a laser to make the incision and soften the lens. Recovery may be faster with this type of surgery.

Cataract Surgery - Complications

Cataract surgery is a very safe surgery especially when performed by an experienced eye surgeon. Possible complications of cataract surgery are:
  • Poor vision which may be due to the surgery, or the presence of another eye problem that was not detected prior to the surgery.
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Inflammation in the eye
  • Changes in intraocular pressure
  • After-cataract, which occurs due to cloudiness of the tissue enclosing the lens

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