One might reason that improving vision would lead to fewer injuries—like hip fractures caused by a fall. Well, a recent study has determined that patients who undergo cataract surgery are less likely to suffer hip injuries.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Victoria Tseng, said most cataract surgery studies so far focused on sight only, without asking what happens afterwards with the regained sight. Dr. Tseng’s intuition was right—if you can see well, you’re less likely to fall.
Dr. Tseng and her colleagues looked at a random sample of 1.1 million Medicare patients aged 65 or older who were diagnosed with cataracts between 2002 and 2009. They compared the rates of hip fractures in patients who underwent surgery to remove cataracts with rates in patients who did not. The researchers found that patients who received cataract surgery were 16% less likely to break a hip in the year after the procedure, but the benefit was most pronounced in older patients.
Those aged 80 to 84, enjoyed the greatest benefits, with 28% fewer fractures. Those with chronic illnesses like heart disease or diabetes were 26% to 28% less likely to experience a hip fracture after cataract surgery, compared with equally sick patients who didn’t undergo surgery.
Hip fractures are a serious concern for the elderly population. In the US, over 300,000 cases are reported each year. The Canadian Public Health Agency reports that 40% of seniors’ falls result in hip fractures. It’s also a huge cost to the health system, costing the US over 10 billion dollars in 2010, in Canada it costs over 2 billion dollars annually in direct health care costs.
Cataracts is an eye condition which clouds the lens of the eye, causing blurred vision, and is the most common cause of visual impairment among the older population. Cataract surgery is a commonly performed and generally safe outpatient procedure. The study authors hope their findings will encourage more people to undergo the procedure.
(Sources: The Toronto Star & American Council on Science and Health)