Harvard Men's Health Watch

No added risk for vision loss after cataract removal

Having cataracts removed does not increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), scientists report in the journal Ophthalmology. A cataract occurs when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Surgery removes the cloudy lens, but this allows more light—especially higher-energy blue light—to reach the light-sensing retina in the back of the eye. Some doctors have been concerned that the more intense light impinging on the retina could damage it and lead to AMD, a cause of vision loss in older adults.

The study involved more than 2,000 people 65 and older who had cataracts removed at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Australia. A subset of them had cataracts removed in only one eye, allowing the doctors to see if the operated eye was any more likely to develop AMD than the non-operated eye. Over the three years the participants were followed, doctors saw no difference between the operated and non-operated eyes, confirming that in this group of people, cataract surgery does not raise the risk of AMD.

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