Maintaining good eyesight as you get older is about more than just being able to continue to perform day-to-day tasks like reading, driving, and cooking. A growing body of evidence shows that it’s also about promoting mental health and decreasing your risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Researchers have found that having poor eyesight appears to increase the risk of cognitive decline in older people, while good eyesight may ward off dementia.
CTA: What are cataracts, and how do they affect your vision? Learn more here!
The Evidence: Cataract Surgery and Dementia
In a study published in February 2022 in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that people 65 and older who underwent cataract surgery had as much as a 29% lower risk of developing dementia as they got older. But why does this happen?
Eye doctors and other healthcare professionals that worked on the study aren’t sure exactly why cataract removal lowers the risk of cognitive decline, but they do have a number of theories.
One leading idea is that cataract removal allows for more and better-quality visual information to reach the brain. At the same time, patients with better eyesight are able to more fully engage with the world around them, keeping their brains active and nimble well into old age.
Another possible reason: reason could be cataracts tend to cause the lens of the eye to develop a yellow tint. This means that more blue light is filtered out before it can reach the retina, altering the function of photosensitive cells there that have been shown to affect cognition and influence the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Cataract surgery, then, may allow these cells to regenerate in a way that promotes visual and cognitive health.
CTA: Not seeing as well as you used to? Schedule an eye exam with our Houston eye care team today!
For more information on how cataract removal and other essential eye care services can help maintain your cognitive health as you age, contact our The Woodlands eye doctors at Houston Eye Professionals today.