Cataract is one of the most prevalent eye diseases in the world. It is the gradual clouding of the eye lens, leading to a decrease in the vision. Most people who suffer from cataracts see faded colors, blurry or double vision and halos around light sources and poor night vision. Without timely treatment, this condition can lead to blindness or visual impairments.
Most cataracts form as people age. Risk factors like diabetes, smoking, and prolonged exposure to sunlight lead to the accumulation of clumps of protein or yellow-brown pigment in the lens; which reduces the amount of light reaching the retina leading to cataracts.
While our eye specialists recommend surgical removal of cataracts, there is an increasing discussion around the success of this surgery with advancing age. In this blog, we will discuss more the effects of cataracts with increasing age.
Old age and cataract surgery
Studies show that the effectiveness of cataract surgery in 90% of the general population assures about a visual accuracy of 6/12 or better. However, there is a debate regarding the success of this surgery in older patients.
In older adults, who are in the ages 85 and above, the studies are not very conclusive. In some of these people, a visual accuracy of 6/12 was not attained even after the surgery. However, with increasing life expectancies, it has become necessary to understand the effects of this surgery on people in this age group.
So what affects these results? Is it likely that their overall health is playing a role in the success of the surgery?
Possible causes of imperfect vision after the surgery
With advancing age, most people suffer from a number of health issues, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and even other pre-existing eye conditions.
With more than half of these conditions remaining interconnected, scientists have not been able to pinpoint the exact reasons for a failed or an ineffective surgery result. Here are some of the possibilities:
- Like with any surgery, cataract surgery also has certain risks associated with it. Elderly people suffering from cardiovascular conditions are, therefore, at a higher risk of complications during the surgery.
- Another situation often noted is the prevalence of other eye conditions. Conditions like glaucoma or age-related maculopathy hinder the cataract surgery outcome in elderly patients.
- A third possible explanation is a chance for functional impairment irrespective of vision in the older population. While age itself doesn’t reduce the chances of a successful surgery, older people with lower attention span and other subtle age-related eye issues together give inconclusive surgical results.
Although the research tells us about the possibilities of a failed cataract surgery in elders above the age of 85, it’s once again not a firm conclusion.
Global statistics show that 85% of the older patients had improved visual accuracy, and 87% reported some benefit from the surgery.
In a nutshell, apart from the expected complications related to the surgery and the effects of pre-existing eye conditions, age doesn’t play a significant role in the success of cataract surgery in the older population.