“As a cataract surgeon it is quite apparent to me that when we improve vision for patients with cataracts, their mobility is typically improved as well as their confidence and the safety with which they navigate,” stated Indiana Cataract Surgeon Scott Buck, M.D. of Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center in Valparaiso.
“We know that visual impairment from cataracts-whether from blurry vision, glare, halos or decreased contrast-is a known risk factor for falls,” commented Fairfield County Connecticut Cataract Surgeon Leslie Doctor, M.D. “It comes as no surprise that when looking at the risk of hip fracture among more than 1 million people on Medicare aged 65 with cataracts, researchers found people who had cataract surgery had a 16% lower risk of hip fracture one year after the procedure.”
Satish Modi, M.D., a NY Cataract Surgeon at Seeta Eye Centers in Poughkeepsie, New York shared advice about the timing of patient decisions to have cataract surgery. “I have been counseling patients for years, that a hip or pelvis fracture is THE sentinel event that leads to a progressive decline in quality of life and usually signifies increased mortality and morbidity,” stated Dr. Modi. “The anisometropia that occurs after only one cataract is removed-with the unoperated eye having poor vision due to an as of yet unoperated cataract-is a major cause of loss of depth perception and falls and fractures. I caution every patient to be careful during this interim period and instruct them to carefully hold the bannister, not climb any ladders, be careful at curbs, etc.-until the second eye is done and their depth perception is restored,” Dr. Modi further explained.
Dr. Buck emphasized the broader overall impact of cataract surgery on the lifestyle and safety of the elderly as well as on health care costs and spending. “Accidental falls and the resulting bone fractures are a major cause of disability and death among the elderly. Fall related injuries literally cost the U.S. more than $10 billion a year in associated health care costs. Restoring visual functioning through timely cataract surgery for seniors may be a cost-effective way to reduce the risk of falls and hip fractures among older adults while concurrently improving their quality of life,” explained Dr. Buck.
Baltimore Cataract Surgeon Brad Spagnolo, M.D. of Baltimore Washington Eye Center summarized the research. “The key here is that there is a demonstrated need for timely cataract surgery for seniors in order to manage the risk of challenged mobility with resulting fractures. We are quite fortunate-and it is really rewarding-to be able to provide cataract patients with modern patient friendly cataract surgery on an outpatient basis that utilizes tiny incisions, eye drops for anesthesia and a quick visual recovery.”