You may have read that cataract surgery can worsen the course of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - a progressive loss of vision as a result of the deterioration of nerve tissue in the retina. However, a new study by researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in the USA has found that this isn't true.
Despite the findings of this study, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, experts warn that this doesn't settle the long-standing controversy over how appropriate it is to have cataract surgery if you have AMD. After all, AMD is the leading cause of blindness in adults 55 years and older. Read on for the full findings...
John Hopkins University School of Medicine study ties cataract surgery to very low risk of the progression of age-related macular degeneration
The study was led by Neil M. Bressler. To reach their findings, the team looked at 86 elderly patients with AMD who underwent cataract surgery. One week after surgery, imaging revealed new AMD lesions in five eyes, but the team believes these lesions were present before surgery – they just weren’t visible. After one year, new lesions were diagnosed in three additional eyes.
After excluding eyes with poor or missing images, the five eyes that probably had AMD prior to surgery and deaths, the team concluded that the AMD progression rate from one week to one year was lower than 5%.
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The results weren’t significantly different from the result in the subjects’ unoperated eyes: Only 3% developed new AMD lesions during the same period, according to the team.
Expert advises a “straightforward discussion” with your doctor about the risks of cataract surgery
Despite what this new study found, Dr Barbara EK Klein from the University of Wisconsin points out that a body of past research dating back to the late 1980s shows an association between cataract surgery and AMD progression.
Klein advises a “straightforward discussion” between you and your doctor about the risks of progression of early AMD and the development of late AMD and its accompanying risk of blindness following cataract surgery.
She feels that such a discussion will “help both the patient and his or her physician to make a more informed decision”.
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