MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD
Center for Community Outreach and Policy, Stein Eye Institute
David Geffen School of Medicine
Director, UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic
Department of Epidemiology, Fielding School of Public Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, and cataract surgery is an intervention that is known to be extremely effective to address the vision loss related to cataract. However, it is unclear if there are benefits of cataract surgery beyond vision improvement in people with cataracts. Previous studies have suggested that in addition to improving vision, cataract surgery may decrease the risk of fractures and accidents, improve mental health, and improve overall quality of life. The purpose of the present study was to further investigate the potential benefits of cataract surgery and to determine if cataract surgery was associated with increased survival in people with cataracts.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: To investigate our research question, we used the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) database, which contains diverse information about a large cohort of women who participated in the WHI study, which is a long-term national health study focused on strategies for preventing heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women. Our study population included WHI participants with a diagnosis of cataract, and we compared mortality outcomes in participants who did and did not receive cataract surgery while accounting for other factors that could potentially confound this association including demographics, systemic comorbidities, ocular comorbidities, and lifestyle factors.
We found that in WHI participants with cataract, those who underwent cataract surgery had decreased risk of overall mortality as well as mortality attributed to specific conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, pulmonary disease, neurologic disease, accidents, and infectious disease.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: Readers should take away that in addition to the obvious benefit of vision improvement, cataract surgery may potentially improve overall health and survival. While we do not know the exact reason for this survival benefit and did not look for explanations in our current study, our hypothesis is that the vision improvement from cataract surgery leads to better quality of life and an increase in ability to maintain overall health, which may subsequently improve survival.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We would suggest that future research studies examine associations between cataract surgery and specific factors that may influence survival, such as the occurrence of new cardiovascular disease or cancer. Additionally, we would recommend further studies examining patient selection for cataract surgery and factors that influence patients to make the decision to proceed with surgery. All of these topics would build on the findings from our study and provide worthy information regarding the long term benefits of cataract surgery.
Disclosures: No authors have any conflicts of interest to disclose.
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Tseng VL, Chlebowski RT, Yu F, Cauley JA, Li W, Thomas F, Virnig BA, Coleman AL. Association of Cataract Surgery With Mortality in Older WomenFindings from the Women’s Health Initiative. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online October 26, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.4512
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