Cataract removal reduces risk of broken hips from falls

The New York Times reports, “Older people who have eye surgery to remove cataracts and improve their vision also significantly reduce their risk of breaking a hip in a fall, with the sickest among them and those in their early 80s experiencing nearly 30 percent fewer hip fractures in the first year,” according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The study included a five percent random sample of Medicare beneficiaries from 2002 to 2009 who had cataracts,” HealthDay reports. “Of the more than 1.1 million patients with cataracts, 36.9 percent had surgery during the study period.”

“During the year following the cataract procedure, patients had a 16% decrease in the likelihood of hip fracture (adjusted OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.81 to 0.87, P<0.001) compared with patients who did not have their cataracts removed,” MedPage Today reports. “And in patients with severe cataracts, such as anterior and posterior subcapsular cataracts, the reduction in risk reached 23% (adjusted OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.72 to 0.84, P<0.001),” the study found.

WebMD points out, “Falls and the resulting bone fractures are a major cause of disability and death among the elderly. Researchers say fall-related injuries cost the US more than $10 billion in health care costs in 2000.” The study “results suggest cataract surgery may be a cost-effective way to reduce the risk of falls and hip fractures among older adults.”

Medscape reports that according to independent commentator Alan N. Carlson, MD, of the Duke University School of Medicine, “Linking the diagnosis of cataract or having cataract surgery with hip fracture or falling or any type of accident is a challenging proposition, as the aging population is heterogeneous as is the spectrum of injury with the more serious form of injury including hip fracture.”

He also pointed out, “Fall prevention in the perioperative period leading up to surgery and in the early postoperative period is a critical aspect of patient care, as these patients form a high-risk group for fall-related traumatic injury and fracture.”

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