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Cataract Surgery Linked to Reduced Risk of Developing Dementia

Cataract surgery is a common procedure for older adults with cataracts to help prevent vision loss. A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that cataract removal may have wider health benefits and could help reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Researchers from the University of Washington analyzed data from over 3,000 participants in a longitudinal study. At the start of the study participants did not have cataracts. Over the course of the study approximately half of the participants received cataract surgery and 853 participants developed dementia. The data showed that individuals who had cataract surgery were about 30% less likely to develop dementia in the 10 years after surgery.

It isn’t clear exactly why this link between cataract surgery and dementia exists, but the research team gave some possible reasons. Vision loss may cause people to limit social activity and exercise. Decrease in these activities are linked to cognitive decline. As well,
the way cataracts impact vision could lead to specific changes in the brain or impact the way sensory input is received by the brain.

Regardless of the reason, this study provides strong evidence that helping people maintain vision as they age is crucial for healthy aging and better quality of life.

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