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Editor's e-Note
A recent study provides evidence that there’s a dual benefit to cataract surgery—improved vision and a reduced risk of dementia. Results from the Adult Changes in Thought study, reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that subjects who had cataract surgery, compared with those who did not, had a nearly 30% lower risk of developing dementia from any cause, as well as of Alzheimer’s disease specifically.

In addition to reading our e-newsletter, be sure to visit Today’s Geriatric Medicine’s website at, where you’ll find news and information that’s relevant and reliable. We welcome your feedback at Follow Today’s Geriatric Medicine on Facebook and Twitter too.

— Kate Jackson, editor
e-News Exclusive
Better Vision and Better Cognitive Health

Cataracts affect most older adults at risk for dementia, and now researchers are finding strong evidence that cataract surgery is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia.

The Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study is a long-standing, Seattle-based observational study at Kaiser Permanente Washington of more than 5,000 participants older than 65. Based on the longitudinal data of more than 3,000 ACT study participants, subjects who underwent cataract surgery had nearly 30% lower risk of developing dementia from any cause compared with those who did not. This lowered risk persisted for at least a decade after surgery. Cataract surgery was also associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease dementia specifically. The results were reported in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Lead researcher Cecilia Lee, MD, and associate professor and Klorfine Family Endowed Chair in ophthalmology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, says the observational study adjusted for a number of potential confounders, yet still yielded a strong association.

“This kind of evidence is as good as it gets in epidemiology,” Lee says. “This is really exciting because no other medical intervention has shown such a strong association with lessening dementia risk in older individuals.”

The mechanisms by which cataract surgery and lessened dementia risk are associated was not determined in this study. Researchers hypothesize that people may be getting higher quality sensory input after cataract surgery, which might have a beneficial effect in reducing the risk of dementia.

“These results are consistent with the notion that sensory input to the brain is important to brain health,” says coauthor Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, a principal investigator of the ACT study, and senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.

Full story »
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