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Cataract Surgery Saves Eyes and Lives

Procedure reduces mortality rates among women in recent study

Cataract Surgery Improves Health

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With improved vision, people can move more and get more exercise, according to a new study.

Getting treatment for cataracts, a common eye disorder for people 40 and older, may do more than just fix your vision; it could also increase your life span by improving your overall health.

A 20-year study, published in JAMA Opthamology, was conducted on 74,044 women ages 65 and older who suffered from cataracts. It found a 60 percent lower risk of death among 41,735 women who had their cataracts removed, the New York Times reports.

When cataracts form on the lens, behind the iris and pupil, the person suffers from clouding and discoloration. Images get increasingly fuzzy, and the eyes become more sensitive. Cataract surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, during which the cloudy lens is broken into small pieces and gently sucked out of the eye, and an artificial lens is inserted in its place. The women in the study who underwent the procedure lived longer — despite having more health problems at the beginning of the study — than those who did not have surgery.

Published by Anne L. Coleman, M.D., and colleagues at the Stein Eye Institute of the David Geffen School of Medicine, the study confirms earlier research on reduced mortality for both men and women after cataract surgery. What's more, this study was large enough to show how the procedure improved lifestyles and therefore reduced death risk from a variety of causes. 

Coleman explained to the Times that 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 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."

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