Cataract surgery reduces hip fracture risk

August 8, 2012
Ophthalmology Times Staff Reports

A study of more than 400,000 Medicare beneficiaries has found an unexpected benefit of cataract removal surgery: a 16% decrease in a specific type of fracture.

San Francisco-Patients who had cataract removal surgery were found to have a 16% decrease in the risk of hip fracture compared with patients who did not undergo the procedure, according to an observational study of more than 400,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

The association was even more profound in patients with severe cataracts, demonstrating a 23% reduction in 1-year hip fracture odds.

The study tracked hip fracture incidence in a cohort of Medicare patients from 2002 to 2009. The medical records of 410,809 patients who had cataracts removed surgically were analyzed for hip fractures that occurred within 1 year of the surgery. These data were then compared with hip fracture incidence in a matched group of patients who had cataracts but did not have cataract surgery.

The results were published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The researchers recommend future prospective studies using standardized registries of patients with cataracts to help further elucidate the association between cataract surgery and fracture risk.

“Cataract surgery has already been demonstrated to be a cost-effective intervention for visual improvement,” they wrote. “The results in this study suggest the need for further investigation of the additional potential benefit of cataract surgery as a cost-effective intervention to decrease the incidence of fractures in the elderly.”

In addition, the study suggests that patients should never be considered too old to have cataract surgery.

“In fact, the greatest reduction in hip fracture risk was in patients who had cataract surgery when they were in their 80s,” said Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD, the Fran and Ray Stark Professor of Ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Hoskins Center for Quality Eye Care.

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