Cataract surgery ‘can benefit the memory of patients with dementia’

New research from a US study has suggested that cataract surgery, as well as helping to improve vision can protect the memory of patients with dementia.

Initial results from a continuing study conducted by researchers at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, USA showed that in a group of 28 patients with significant cataracts and with dementia, immediate surgery to remove the cataracts not only improved the dementia patients’ standard of vision but also helped improve their quality of life and reduced behavioural symptoms.

cataract surgery researchCataract surgery also appeared to reduce the rate of cognitive decline, improved both mood and concentration, and additionally reduced stress for the dementia patients’ care givers.

Results of the study of 28  patients suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease, were presented to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen on Sunday 13th July 2014. Specialists said the study was significant because, in many cases, elderly patients with dementia were not offered cataract surgery because it was anticipated it would make little difference to the quality of their lives.

Dr Doug Brown, a Director of R&D at the Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“This small study suggests that cataract surgery may benefit people with dementia beyond just improving their vision. All too often people don’t see the value of surgery for someone with a progressive health condition, like dementia.”

and added:

“Even though we need to see this replicated in larger trials, this study highlights how important it is to re-consider this approach, as it could improve the quality of life of people with dementia. 800,000 people in the UK have dementia. Research such as this is vitally important to help enable people to live well with the condition.”

Eye exams can help diagnose early dementia

Additional results of another study presented at the same Alzheimer’s conference found that regular eye examinations could assist with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease at a very early stage. Research carried out in Australia and the USA both suggested regular eye examinations could help pick up Alzheimers in patients long before any symptoms were experienced, which in turn could help to develop effective treatments for the disease.

Commenting on both the studies findings, Maria Carrillo, PhD, Vice President, Medical and Scientific Relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, stressed the importance of optimal healthcare investigation and treatments for individuals with dementia.

“If a person with dementia falls because they can’t see properly and has to be hospitalized because of a broken hip bone, they may never recover. In addition, vision loss is very socially isolating. I don’t think people really understand that healthcare in general is a very important part of quality of life for people with dementia. This not only helps the patient, it also helps the family”

Find out more about Cataract Surgery

If you have an elderly relative who has been diagnosed with dementia or you are concerned about their vision, please contact the Advanced Vision Care staff for further information on elderly vision problems, cataract surgery or to book an investigative consultation.

Reference: Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2014. Abstract P1-388. Presented July 13, 2014.

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