Cataract News Archive (2012-2013)

...continued from Current Cataract News

Cataract Surgery Patients Live Longer

November 2013 — New research from Australia has confirmed that there is a 40 percent lower long-term mortality risk in people who have had cataract surgery.

Senior lady smiling.
Correction of cataract-related vision loss may increase optimism and emotional well-being, and this may result in a longer life span.

The research used data gathered in the Blue Mountains Eye Study, which examined vision and common eye diseases in an older Australian population.

The study compared people over age 49 who had cataract-related vision loss and underwent cataract surgery to correct this with those similarly aged who had the same type of vision loss but did not have the surgery.

Adjustments were made for age and gender, as well as a number of mortality risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, heart disease and body mass index.

Previous studies have shown that older persons with cataract-related visual impairment likely have a greater mortality risk than their peers who have normal vision — and that cataract surgery might reduce that risk.

While the association between correction of cataract-related vision problems and reduced mortality risk is not clearly understood, possible factors may include improvements in physical and emotional well-being, optimism and greater confidence associated with independent living after vision improvement.

Aspheric IOLs Often Provide Better Contrast Sensitivity Than Spherical IOLs, Study Finds

July 2013 — Aspheric intraocular lenses (IOLs) implanted during cataract surgery often provide better contrast sensitivity than standard spherical IOLs, especially in dim light, according to an analysis of multiple clinical trials that was performed by researchers in Germany.

Senior couple smiling outside.

During cataract surgery, the clouded natural lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial implantable lens. Traditional IOLs significantly improve vision, but do not correct spherical aberration, an optical imperfection that can reduce image quality and cause increased glare and halos.

Aspheric IOLs are designed to reduce spherical aberration and provide superior quality of vision. They accomplish this by changing in curvature slightly from the center of the lens to the periphery to more closely mimic the optics of the human crystalline lens.

In the study, the investigators searched international peer-reviewed literature for studies that compared visual outcomes after cataract surgery for both types of IOLs.

Post-surgical visual outcomes evaluated included best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), contrast sensitivity and subjective perception of vision quality.

Forty-three studies were included in the analysis, comprising 2,076 eyes implanted with aspheric IOLs and 2,034 eyes implanted with spherical IOLs.

Pooled results of the studies revealed aspheric IOLs provided better contrast sensitivity than spherical IOLs, especially under dim light. But there was no clinically significant difference in BCVA between aspheric and spherical IOLs, and questionnaires of patients' subjective perception of their vision quality after cataract surgery revealed no significant advantage for either type of IOL.

The study was published online by the journal Ophthalmology in June.

Man Punched in the Eye Develops Star-Shaped Cataract

April 2013 — A punch in the eye can make you see stars — literally. An Austrian man has developed a star-shaped (stellate) cataract after a blow to the eye that had occurred nearly nine months earlier, according to a case report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Picture of a star-shaped cataract.
Image: © New England Journal of Medicine

The 55-year-old experienced increasingly blurry vision over the six months after the punch, after which time he visited his eye doctor. The trauma to the eye had damaged the eye's lens, triggering the formation of a cataract — and a peculiarly shaped one at that.

Cataracts typically form with old age, but it's also common for them to develop after an eye injury. What is most striking about this particular case is that the cataract formed a distinct star shape.

The man regained full visual acuity after phacoemulsification to remove the cataract and implantable lens (IOL) transplantation to replace the natural lens.

To help prevent unnecessary trauma to the eye, always wear protective eyewear during sports and safety glasses or goggles when working with heavy machinery or chemicals. (And stay out of fist fights!)

Lower Risk of Hip Fracture After Cataract Surgery

August 2012 — Here's another reason not to delay surgery if you're older and receive a cataract diagnosis.

A study of about 1.1 million 65-and-older Medicare beneficiaries with cataracts during 2002-2009 revealed that those who underwent cataract removal had less risk of hip fracture one year later compared with those who did not have the cataract surgery during that time.

Watch this video from the Journal of the American Medical Association about the lower risk of hip fracture after cataract surgery.
Watch this video for more details about cataract surgery resulting in a lower risk of hip fracture among older patients.

Hip and other fractures can be very dangerous in older people, causing illness and even death, and poor vision is one of the reasons for loss of balance that results in falls and hip fracture.

During the one-year study period for each person, the overall fracture incidence was 1.3 percent.

But those who underwent cataract surgery had a 16 percent decrease in the adjusted odds of hip fracture compared with those who did not have the surgery. In those with severe cataract, the adjusted odds of hip fracture was 23 percent less.

A report of the study is appearing this month in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

Time To Think About Cataracts

June 2012 — June is Cataract Awareness Month, so if you're age 40 or older, make sure you're getting regular eye exams to detect any changes to your eyes and vision.

Cataracts can really sneak up on you, and you may not realize that your vision is becoming cloudy until an eye exam reveals it.

Prevent Blindness America says that more than 22 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts. The organization has a toll-free number you can call with questions about cataracts and cataract surgery: (800) 331-2020.

If you're worried about having cataract surgery, keep in mind that it's the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States, with relatively few complications. For more information, please read our cataract surgery article.

How Old Is too Old to Have Cataract Surgery?

May 2012 — If you look at the example of 109-year-old Guo Liansheng, there may not be an upper age limit for cataract surgery. After all, everybody wants to see well at all ages, right?

Madam Guo may have set a Guinness World Record for the World's Oldest Cataract Surgery Patient (the decision is pending).

Last year, Dr. Chu Tao of Shanghai New Vision Ophthalmic Hospital removed the cataract in her left eye and replaced it with an intraocular lens manufactured by UK company Rayner Intraocular Lenses Ltd.

Before the surgery, Madam Guo could barely see even changes in light. Afterward, she was able to see her infant great-great-granddaughter's face clearly for the first time.

And now, a year later, Dr. Chu Tao has performed the surgery in her other eye, in time for her to see her relatives who visited for the Year of the Dragon New Year celebrations.

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Page updated November 2015

More Cataract Articles

Cataracts: About Cataracts | Cataract FAQ | Cataract News | Congenital Cataracts
Cataract Surgery: About Cataract Surgery | Laser Cataract Surgery
Cataract Surgery Recovery | Cataract Surgery Q&A | Video: How Cataract Surgery Works
Cataract Surgery Cost | A Surgeon Gets Cataract Surgery | Choosing a Cataract Surgeon
Cataract Surgery Complications
Intraocular Lenses: About Intraocular Lenses / IOLs | IOLs for Presbyopia FAQ
Crystalens & Accommodating IOLs | Multifocal IOLs | Mixing IOL Types
Toric IOLs for Astigmatism