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Is Cataract Surgery the Key to a Longer Life?

Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed major surgery in the US. This ten minute, painless procedure is highly effective with success rates over 99%. Along with the obvious improvement in the quality of life that comes with good vision, recent studies show that cataract surgery can dramatically increase lifespan.

One study followed 354 Australian participants over the age of 49 for ten years. After adjusting for health factors, such as smoking, angina, cancer and stroke, the researchers found a 40 percent lower mortality rate in individuals who had cataract surgery. Other studies have shown similar results.

The relationship between cataract surgery and longer life is not clearly understood. Possible factors include better physical and emotional well being after surgery, greater success living independently, fewer serious injuries from falls and a greater ability to comply with prescription medications.

Another risk factor is the relationship between poor vision and hip fractures. The likelihood of hip fracture is significantly lower in those individuals having cataract surgery compared to those who do not. This is due to the higher risk of falls in patients with impaired vision. It is a well-known fact that, unfortunately, mortality rates increase after hip fractures.

The most common symptoms of cataracts include difficulty driving, especially at night, trouble reading and glare and haloes around lights.