Live Longer with Cataract Surgery?

New research suggests that if you undergo cataract surgery, you'll not only see more clearly, you also may actually live longer.  A National Bureau of Economic Research study says Americans over 65 are living longer and with fewer disabilities and that a chief reason is cataract surgery, which prevents falls and allows senior to continue working and driving safely.

Those who have cataract surgery are less likely to experience disability than people who don't according to the June NBER paper. Between 1992 and 2008, healthy life expectancy at age 65 increased by 1.8 years, the study says, and two treatments contributed:  better cardiac care and cataract surgery.

Those who opt for cataract surgery also lower their odds of breaking a hip.  In a group of Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older with a diagnosis of cataracts, patients who had surgery to remove them had lower odds of hip fracture within one year compared with patients who didn't have cataract surgery.

With a cataract, the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, which can significantly interfere with vision. There are many myths concerning cataract surgery among the elderly and minorities such as going blind.  but the technology is very advanced now using pain-free lasers and procedures that last just a few hours and patients go home the same day.

Many people don't get annual eye exams and don't realize they're losing vision.  Many are already legally blind, but don't know it because the brain adapts.  When you slowly lose peripheral vision, due to glaucoma or cataracts, your brain accommodates and tries to fix the field of vision.  You can only detect cataracts with an eye exam and early intervention is very important to your eventual outcome.