Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Improved Vision = Enhance Longevity

"Not only can cataract surgery give people a better life while they're living it, they can also live more of it."
"[When people can see better] they 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 [cataract removal] 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."
"It's probably the most successful surgery we have -- it has a 98 percent success rate."
Dr. Anne L. Coleman, University of California, Los Angeles

"[The surgery] was quick and easy -- maybe five minutes -- and it was like a miracle."
"I couldn't believe how well I could see right after the first eye was done."
Jane Quinn, 72, Brooklyn, New York
optometrist looking at eye
Older women who undergo cataract surgery may live longer.  Medical News Today
At one time surgery to remove cataracts was performed under general anesthesia. Patients, post-surgery spent nights in the hospital and it took weeks in bed to fully recover. Medical and surgical techniques have since advanced to the point where the procedure is performed with a local anesthetic, incisions are infinitely slighter and often require no stitches. "First one eye is operated upon, then the second one undergoes surgery roughly two weeks later. Recuperation is swift.

The formation of cataracts is linked to age, an almost inevitable consequence of aging. In those over 40 they represent the most frequent cause of vision loss. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (sunlight), smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, prolonged use of corticosteroids, extreme nearsightedness and family history all represent risk factors in the development of cataracts.

The use of 100 percent UV ray-blocking sunglasses and a hat are considered useful preventives. Foods rich in vitamin E (spinach, almonds, sweet potatoes); carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin (derived from dark green leafy vegetables), and omega-3 fatty acids (found in spinach and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines) may help in reducing the risk of cataracts developing.

A 20-year study of 74,044 women between the ages of 65 and up revealed that of the total, all of whom had cataracts, 41735 having had their cataracts removed experienced a 60 percent lower risk of death. Published on line in JAMA Ophthalmology in October by Dr. Coleman and her colleagues, the results have indicated just how vital attention to cataracts can be in promoting quality of life, if not longevity.

The normally clear structure behind the iris and pupil becomes distorted so that incoming visual images fail to clearly focus on the retina at the back of the eye. Cataracts cloud and discolour the lens of the eye. As cataracts form, images become increasingly fuzzy, glare tends to bother the eyes, there is impairment of night vision, and colour shades can be lost.

In the United States, cataract surgery represents the most frequently performed of all surgeries reflecting the fact that over three million Americans undergo cataract removal annually. Tiny surgical instruments are used to suck out the cloudy lens of the eye, to be replaced by an artificial lens. For most people, a half-hour recovery after surgery is all that is required before discharge from hospital and returning home.

Interestingly, the women in the study who had undergone cataract surgery were more ill than others -- having had more heart attacks, chronic pulmonary disease, peptic ulcers and glaucoma than those who didn't undergo cataract surgery, yet they lived longer. A lower mortality risk is also associated with men following cataract surgery, confirmed by previous studies.

The conclusion of the study was that while confirming earlier studies relating to fewer deaths in women having cataract surgery, data showed that those who had cataract surgery had reduced risks of death from cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological and infectious diseases, as well as from accidents, and cancer, following surgery.

Image: Cataract Surgery May Lengthen Women's Lives
(Copyright DPC)

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