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Ophthalmologists Find Cataract Surgery Improves Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Posted by floriza in Ophthalmology

A new study presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Orlando, Florida found that cataract surgery improved some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The study was conducted at Tenon Hospital in Paris, France and involved 38 patients. The average age of the patients was 85, and all of them suffered from only a mild case of Alzheimer’s.

Previous ophthalmology studies have shown that vision problems affect people with Alzheimer’s disease, making them prone to depression and making it more difficult for them to think clearly. From the data obtained from this study, researchers concluded that cataract surgery has the potential of also improving cognition and sleep.

The cataract surgery for all of the patients studied involved the customary lens implants that usually provide a significant improvement in vision. For many elderly people, lens implants with cataract surgery provide them with better vision than they have had in years.

The Alzheimer’s Symptoms That Improved

A neuropsychologist examined the patients and evaluated their improvement in a variety of mood and behavioral-related areas at both one month and three months after their cataract surgery. Twenty-five percent of the patients showed an improvement in their ability to understand their surroundings. The patients were still unable to function without assistance, but the sleep disturbances that often accompany Alzheimer’s disease were reduced in most of the patients in the study.

This may be due to the fact that melatonin levels seem to be adversely affected by the presence of cataracts. A hormone that regulates sleep, melatonin levels have been shown to become closer to normal after cataract surgery.

What is a Cataract?

When a cataract is present, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. It affects the vision like a frosted window. Cataracts are progressive and gradually worsen over time. Vision becomes blurred and may worsen after dark. Many people also experience sensitivity to light or may experience double vision.

Cataracts usually form as part of the aging process, so it is unusual for younger people to develop them. The tissues of the lens break down and thicken as we age, losing some of their flexibility. As the tissues form clumps, the cloudiness results. Over time, the clouding can grow and affect a larger area of the lens of the eye. A cataract can form in one or both eyes.

Surgery for cataracts is the most common surgery performed today in the field of ophthalmology and is very safe.

Ophthalmology in New Jersey and most areas of the United States is very advanced and can treat cataracts easily as an outpatient surgery.

 

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