Reducing the risk of cognitive decline with cataract surgery

Cataract surgery plays a crucial role in preserving the cognitive abilities of older adults.

In this article, discover, among other things, the JAMA article which discusses the solution to reducing the risk of cognitive decline with cataract surgery!

Reducing the risk of cognitive decline with cataract surgery:

What are the pathologies affected?

The aging population, coupled with the increasing prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, raises increasing concerns about cognitive decline in older adults. 


Cognitive disorders, including memory problems, alterations in cognitive functions and slowing of cognitive abilities, are common manifestations of brain aging. 


Among the different neurodegenerative pathologies, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most studied. This disease is characterized by the progressive degeneration of neurons in the cerebral cortex, leading to severe cognitive disorders and deterioration of brain functions. 

Parkinson’s disease, for its part, affects the neurons responsible for controlling movements, but can also cause cognitive disorders in affected patients. 


It has been observed that cataract surgery, a common eye condition among older people, may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline


Indeed, studies have shown that cataract treatment can improve visual acuity, delay the progression of mild cognitive impairment and slow cognitive decline in affected patients.

Reducing the risk of cognitive decline with cataract surgery:

the link between visual acuity and cognition

Improving visual acuity through cataract surgery has a significant impact on cognition, and in a general way, by correcting vision defects such as myopia, astigmatism and presbyopia.  


This intervention allows patients to better perceive their environment and perform daily tasks with more precision. 


In addition, correcting visual disturbances helps stimulate brain activity, strengthen neuronal connections and prevent degeneration of cognitive functions. 

By improving visual acuity and reducing risk factors for cognitive decline linked to vascular dementia, this intervention helps maintain brain health in elderly patients and delay the onset of cognitive impairment. 

It is therefore essential to consider the importance of eye health in order to reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults.

Reducing the risk of cognitive decline with cataract surgery:

the JAMA study

The participants, aged 65 when included, were followed every two years from 1994 to 2018, until the onset of dementia (Alzheimer’s disease or other type of dementia). Those diagnosed with cataract or glaucoma before or during follow-up were included in the analyses, totaling 3038 individuals.


The authors took into account traditional risk factors for dementia (education level, smoking, lipid status, gender, etc.) for the analysis. 


The results obtained for the association between cataract surgery, which restores vision, and the risk of dementia were compared to those after glaucoma surgery, which has no impact on vision.

Cataract surgery was associated with a significant reduction in dementia risk compared to participants without surgery. 


In contrast, glaucoma surgery did not affect the risk of dementia.


Similar results have been observed for the development of Alzheimer’s type dementia in particular.

Reducing the risk of cognitive decline with cataract surgery:

the benefits

According to the author of the JAMA article on this study, these results could be explained simply by the fact that cataract surgery restores sight, unlike glaucoma surgery.


A reduction in the risk of dementia of close to 30% was observed. Cataract surgery is clearly associated with a reduced risk of dementia. 


Indeed, according to the authors of the study, volunteers suffering from cataracts who had undergone an operation (46%) had a significantly lower risk (ratio of 0.71) of developing dementia than those who had no surgery. 


This association is observed regardless of the type of dementia (Alzheimer’s disease or other).

In conclusion

Thus, cataract surgery would mainly act against dementia by indirectly preventing the reduction of cognitive stimuli. In addition, this surgery could help avoid the cognitive overload observed when subjects with cataracts try to compensate for vision loss.


It is therefore possible to reduce the risk of cognitive decline with cataract surgery!

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