Researchers say cataract removal surgery lowers risk of hip fracture in the very elderly

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Elderly adults who undergo surgery to remove cataracts dramatically lower their risk for a hip fracture within the first year of surgery, new research finds.

A study of Medicare beneficiaries found that those who had their cataracts removed sustained 16% fewer hip fractures within the first year of surgery than those who did not, according to University of California, Los Angeles researchers.

Study participants between the ages of 80 and 84 experienced the biggest benefit of the surgery, with a 28% reduced risk of fractures. This is key, researchers point out, because fracture-related complications increase with age. Treating hip fractures in a nursing home setting can be challenging and costly.

“This is elective surgery, and sometimes people think, ‘I'm too sick to have my cataracts out,' or ‘I'm too old,' ” the study's lead author, Anne L. Coleman, M.D., told the New York Times. “But the take-home message from this study is that if you're starting to have vision problems and the doctor says you have cataracts, you should probably think of having them removed.”

The study was published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.