Harvard Women's Health Watch

Could cataract surgery extend your life?

People who have cataract surgery to improve their vision may live longer in the years that follow, according to a study published in September 2013 in the journal Ophthalmology. The study looked at 354 people, ages 49 or older, with cataracts. About half of them were successfully treated with surgery to remove the clouded lenses. The other half continued to have vision impairment. Ten years after the procedure, 36.4% of people who'd had cataract surgery were still alive, compared with 10.9% of those who still had cataracts and vision impairment. The authors say improved vision may have led to better physical and emotional well-being, contributing to the longer life span. This finding is in line with several other studies that have found an increased risk of death in older people with vision loss. However, this study can't prove conclusively that cataract surgery directly increases life span. Although the authors controlled for factors that might have affected participants' longevity, such as heart attack, smoking, and cancer, it's possible that people who are healthier are more likely to undergo cataract surgery.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »