See Better, Live Longer – Could Cataract Surgery Prolong Your Life?
by Dr. Lawrence Piazza
As a cataract surgeon for the past 27 years, I have felt privileged to elevate the lives of my patients by improving their vision. A new study, highlighted in a December 4, 2017, article in The New York Times, finds that cataract surgery may also prolong patients’ lives.
The study, which was performed over twenty years with more than 74,000 women aged 65 and older, demonstrated a 60% lower risk of death in the nearly 42,000 women who underwent cataract surgery. According to The New York Times, the women who had their cataracts removed “lived longer even though, over all, they were sicker to begin with—as a group, they had more heart attacks, chronic pulmonary disease, peptic ulcers and glaucoma than those who did not have surgery.”
Dr. Anne L. Coleman, who published the study with her colleagues, online in JAMA Ophthalmology, in October, explained that with better vision, people “can also move more and get more exercise. They can see their pills better and may be more likely to take them and take the right ones. The surgery also improves visual contrast, which decreases the risk of accidental deaths from falls or driving. It’s important to get the best vision a person can have.”
More than three million Americans undergo cataract surgery every year. “Not only can cataract surgery give people a better life while they’re living it, they can also live more of it,” Coleman said.
I have always maintained that ophthalmology is among the most satisfying specialties in medicine. We are able to develop long-term relationships with our patients, and perform, through rapid advances in technology, low-impact elective cataract surgery with excellent visual results. This is both a gratifying and mutually rewarding experience. According to this new study, we may now offer the value of prolonging their lives while simultaneously improving the quality of the journey.