Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy
Bob Dylan Talks!


Military and Veterans Discount


You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation


Introducing RealPad by AARP


AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App



Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!


AARP Games - Play Now!


Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.


Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular


Health Discovery

Eye Surgery Helps Alzheimer's Patients

Mood, sleep and thinking improved after cataract surgery

En español | Better eyesight can improve thinking skills, mood, sleep and other behaviors in men and women with Alzheimer's disease, according to new research.

"We did see improvement in many patients" after surgery to correct vision, says Brigitte Girard, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Tenon Hospital in Paris. Girard shared her team's results last month at the American Academy of Ophthalmology's 2011 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

See also: Treating Alzheimer's disease with insulin.

Alzheimers patients show improved cognitive function after cataract surgery to better vision

Alzheimer's patients show improved cognitive function after cataract surgery. — Photo by Alamy

Girard says her four-year study is the first to assess the benefits of eye surgery in patients with Alzheimer's disease, although earlier research had shown that poor vision is related to impaired mood and thinking skills in older people.

The study included 38 patients, mostly women in their mid-80s, with mild to severe Alzheimer's disease. Of that group, 14 had severe dementia and 24 had mild dementia. The participants also had poor vision because the lens in one or both eyes had become cloudy — a condition known as cataracts. After cataract surgery, vision improved dramatically in all but one patient, Girard says.

Standard tests of the participants one month before and three months after the surgeries revealed that the patients with mild Alzheimer's disease experienced the greatest improvements.

A breakdown of the results for all the patients showed:

  • 25 percent showed "some improvement" based on their ability to carry out simple tasks such as repeating a series of words. There was no improvement in complex tasks such as counting money, Girard says.
  • 50 percent were less depressed.
  • 25 percent were better able to feed and wash themselves, possibly because of better vision.
  • 30 percent showed more interest in interacting with family members, while another third became more hostile for unknown reasons, Girard says.
  • 50 percent slept better; Girard explains that allowing more light into the eye helps regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle.

Douglas D. Koch, M.D., an ophthalmology professor at the Cullen Eye Institute at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, says the study was "small, although done meticulously." He says dissemination of the results could be especially helpful to those who care for Alzheimer's patients, since most men and women with Alzheimer's are not able to communicate that they're are having trouble seeing.

Also of interest: Eye test aids early diagnosis of Alzheimer's. >>

Jennifer Anderson is a freelance health and science writer.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members get exclusive points offers from Walgreens, Duane Reade and

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members can save 20% on hearing aids with the AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA.

AARP membership discount Man trying on eyeglasses at optometrists smiling

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at LensCrafters.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.