Link Shown Between Cataract Surgery and Fewer Hip Fractures
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has released a study that shows a correlation between people who have had cataract surgery to improve their vision are less likely to fracture a hip in the year following the procedure that those who didn’t undergo the surgery.
Researchers say that although this doesn’t prove a definitive causal relationship between vision and falling in elderly people, it does show that vision plays a role in such accidents and injuries.
"It is true that you use your vision to kind of help you balance yourself," said ophthalmologist Anne Coleman, M.D., from the University of California, Los Angeles, who worked on the new study.
A cataract surgery is the clouding of the lens of the eye, and most often occurs in the elderly. Cataract surgery replaces the old lens with an artificial one, and more than 3 million of these procedures are performed in the United States each year.
Between 2002 and 2009, there were over $1.1 million U.S. Medicare beneficiaries 65 years and older with a diagnosis of cataract in the 5 percent random sample in the study. Out of these patients, 37 percent received cataract surgery during the study period. 1.3 percent of these patients sustained a hip fracture during the study period, the most common fracture-related comorbidity being osteoporosis and the most common ocular comorbidity being glaucoma.
In a cohort of U.S. Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older with a diagnosis of cataract, patients who had cataract surgery had lower odds of hip fracture within one year after surgery compared with patients who had not undergone cataract surgery.
When Coleman and her colleagues accounted for the older age and worse general health of people who got cataract surgery, they found those individuals had a 16 percent lower chance of fracturing a hip and a five percent lower risk of all fractures compared to people who opted against surgery.
Among people on Medicare with severe cataracts, vision-improving procedures were linked to a 23 percent lower chance of hip fracture, the researchers reported.
Gerald McGwin, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, told Reuters Health that he doesn’t believe this study will have much impact on the elderly population getting cataract surgery. “No one who before today was not going to have cataract surgery is all of a sudden going to have it because they're less likely to get a hip fracture,” he said. “People have it to improve their vision.”
McGwin’s research has looked at the ties between cataract surgery and car accidents.