Skip to main content
Serving the Susquehanna Region

Is Cataract Surgery Linked to a Longer Life?

by David Cute, DO

By age 70, one-fourth of Americans have developed a cataract—clouding of the eye’s lens that leads to vision loss. By age 80, that fraction rises to half. When needed, cataract surgery can help people see better, but the benefits may not end there.

How might cataract surgery and a longer life be connected?

For one thing, improved vision reduces the risk for injuries due to falls and driving accidents. Plus, having a cataract can limit the ability to take part in many activities. Getting surgery to treat the problem helps people with cataracts get back to doing more things they want to do. And that may empower them to lead a healthier, more active life.

What does the research say?

A new study supports the possible connection between having cataract surgery and living longer. The study included more than 74,000 women ages 65 and older who had cataracts. Those who got cataract surgery were less likely to die of any cause during the longrunning study. They were also less likely to die of specific conditions such as:

  •  Accidental injuries
  • Cancer
  • Blood vessel disease
  • Lung disease 

Who needs cataract surgery?

At first, an older loved one with a cataract may be able to manage with eyeglasses and magnifying lenses. But as the cataract gets worse, these steps may not be enough. Vision loss can begin interfering with daily activities, such as driving and reading. At this point, surgery is the only effective treatment.

What happens during cataract surgery?

During the procedure, the cloudy natural lens of the eye is removed. Then it’s replaced with a clear artificial lens. Ninety percent of people who have the surgery can see better afterward. Q How safe is the procedure? As with any surgery, there are risks. They include infection, bleeding, and, rarely, a detached retina. In general, however, it’s a very safe procedure. If your loved one has a cataract that’s causing problems in everyday life, it’s time for a conversation with the eye doctor about surgery.

Eye care experts at UPMC Susquehanna treat a wide range of conditions including cataracts, astigmatism, blepharitis, corneal disorders and much more. For more information or to make an appointment, call Ophthalmology at UPMC Susquehanna at 570-320-7850.