(HealthDay News) Cataract extraction is associated with a reduced risk for dementia development among older adults, according to a study published online Dec. 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Cecilia S. Lee, M.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a prospective, longitudinal cohort study analyzing data from participants aged 65 years or older who were dementia-free at enrollment and followed up biennially until incident dementia. A total of 3,038 participants with a diagnosis of cataract or glaucoma before enrollment or during follow-up were included.

The researchers found that after controlling for years of education, self-reported White race, and smoking history and stratifying by apolipoprotein E genotype, sex, and age group at cataract diagnosis, cataract extraction was associated with a significantly reduced risk for dementia compared with no surgery (hazard ratio, 0.71) based on 23,554 person-years of follow-up. After adjustment for an extensive list of potential confounders, the results were similar in marginal structural models. Similar results were obtained for Alzheimer disease dementia. There was no significant association seen for glaucoma surgery and dementia risk.

“Given the substantial degree by which cataract extraction is associated with lower risk of dementia and its persistent effect beyond 10 years, the improvement in quality of life for the affected individuals and their family is likely considerable,” the authors write. “Further studies on the mechanisms by which cataract extraction may affect dementia risk are warranted.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical and medical device industries; a second author disclosed ties to UpToDate.

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