Evidence is emerging that would suggest that the increase in visual perception following cataract surgery slows dementia for Alzheimer’s sufferers. Small-scale research in the USA makes a compelling case.
The findings were based on twenty cases of dementia patients who had cataract surgery and a control group of eight who did not. Researchers report that, six months after the surgery, there was a significant improvement in both vision and quality of life, a slower decline in thought and memory functions, and marked improvements in behaviour by comparison with the control group. Those responsible for caring for the patients at home also reported a much-improved quality of life.
Dr Alan Lerner of Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, asserts that the link needs to be more fully explored, and that full health care for dementia sufferers could result in much-improved quality of life:
“Our findings need to be verified in a larger study. If the results hold up, it will significantly affect how we treat cataracts in individuals with dementia. Other interventions to offset sensory loss may help improve quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers”.
In the USA, the Alzheimer’s Association has greeted the study with open arms, as it supports their long-held assertion that people with dementia should be afforded exactly the same health care opportunities as people in full health. Spokeswoman Mario Carrillo says:
“Too common attitudes such as ‘There’s no need for extra care’ or ‘Why put them through all of that?’ are not justified and are bad medical practice. As these new results show, improving sensory abilities, for example, can provide benefits in a variety of ways – for people with Alzheimer’s and also for their caregivers from whom unnecessary burden can be lifted”.
Only time will tell if these early results will bear the weight of further scrutiny.
Cataract surgery a plus for someone with dementia, study says.
- Alzheimer's Association:
For people with dementia, cataract surgery improves not only vision but cognition and quality of life.