A study published as part of ARVO’s annual meeting online presentations suggests cataract surgery could help to lower a patient’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers evaluated 3,719 patients and identified 840 probable or possible Alzheimer’s and related dementia cases, as well as patients who have had cataract and cataract surgery. They accounted for several health and cognitive factors in secondary analyses, as healthier participants might have been more likely to receive surgery.

The investigators reported that of the total participants, 1,815 (49%) underwent cataract surgery (mean baseline age 75.5, 62% female). They noted that those who underwent cataract surgery were 22% less likely to have Alzheimer’s than those who did not undergo surgery. They added that the protective effect appeared to be stronger within the first five years following cataract surgery compared with five to 10 years after surgery. They found that secondary analyses yielded similar results.

“This finding does not appear to be due to healthier participants receiving surgery,” the researchers clarified in their paper. “Further research on the implications of eye conditions and treatments on brain health is warranted.”

Lee CS, Gibbons LE, Lee AY, et al. Cataract surgery is associated with reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. ARVO 2020. Abstract 815.