Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cataract Surgery and Alzheimer's Disease

Cataract Surgery for patients with mild Alzheimer's Disease not only improves vision but also can offer improvement in cognitive ability, mood, sleep patterns and other behaviors according to researchers reporting at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Orlando, Florida. In the first study of its kind to specifically assess whether Cataract Surgery could benefit Alzheimer's patients, researchers selected participants who had a debilitating Cataract in at least one eye and were appropriately treated with Cataract Surgery and Intraocular Lens Implantation (IOL) to replace the eyes' natural lenses in order to provide vision correction. The Alzheimer's patients were assessed for mood and depression, behavior, ability to function independently and cognitive abilities at one month before and three months after Cataract removal. Cognitive status, the ability to perceive, understand and respond appropriately to one's surroundings, improved in 25 percent of patients. Depression was relieved in many of them, and the level of improvement was similar to what commonly occurs after Cataract Surgery in elderly people who do not have dementia. No changes were found in patients' level of autonomy, that is, their ability to function independently. In addition, sleep patterns improved and night time behavior problems decreased in most study patients. Other studies have shown that when cataracts are removed, levels of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin become normalized. In future the researchers will study what factors, specifically, led to the positive effects so they can boost the quality of life for Alzheimer's patients, their families and caregivers.

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