Volume 12, Issue 20
Should people with macular degeneration have their cataracts surgically removed?
Macular degeneration is problem enough. But one of the dilemmas I see with many of my patients with macular degeneration is what to do about their cataracts. Some studies have suggested that surgically removing cataracts increases the chance that macular degeneration will get worse as a result. On the other hand, patients who have both conditions can often see much better when the cataracts are removed. Now a brand new meta study is providing a few answers as to whether it is a good idea to take those cataracts out.

The authors of the study searched the literature on the topic and found four studies that looked at the problem. When they added up all the results, they discovered that at 6-12 months after cataract surgery, the vision of patients with simultaneous macular degeneration was significantly better.

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On average they could see about 6.5-7.5 letters better. That means that after the surgery they could read an average of 6.5-7.5 more letters on the eye chart than they could before the surgery. And what about their macular degeneration? They could not find any evidence that the macular degeneration worsened.

The authors cautioned that because the total number of patients in these studies was relatively small, the results cannot be called certain. But right now, it looks like it is a good idea to go ahead with the surgery if your vision is significantly impaired from cataracts.

Yours for better health,

Kessel L, Erngaard D, Flesner P, et al. Cataract surgery and age-related macular degeneration. An evidence-based update. Acta Ophthalmol. 2015 Jan 20.

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