• Written By: Alma I. Murphy, MD
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology

    This study found that correction of visual impairment by cataract surgery was associated with a 40 percent lower mortality risk over 15 years compared with older persons who remained visually impaired because of cataract. The association was independent of indicators of general health and frailty, including poor self-rated health, number of medications and number of comorbid conditions.

    The study addressed whether cataract surgery to correct visual impairment, defined as vision of 20/40 or worse, resulted in improved survival in participants with visual impairment from the Blue Mountain Eye Study, which included people aged 49 years and older.

    There were 354 participants who had both cataract and visual impairment or had undergone cataract surgery before baseline examinations. They were examined after five- and 10-year follow-ups.

    The authors say the study’s findings provide further support to the association between visual impairment and mortality observed in multiple studies. However, they say the exact mechanisms explaining this observed association are not understood. Plausible factors may include physical and emotional well-being, optimism and improved confidence associated with independent living after correcting cataract-related visual impairment.

    This study’s strengths include its well-documented long-term follow-up and adjustment for a large number of confounders. The main limitation is the small number of participants.