A new Canadian study suggests that cataract surgery could cut a patient’s risk of getting involved in a serious car accident. According to this data, patients had a 9 percent higher risk of getting into a car crash before having cataract surgery.
Investigators at the University of Toronto examined over 559,000 health records from cataract patients with a median age of 76. All of these study participants had cataract surgery at some point during the test period of 2006 – 2016.
About three years before their cataract surgery, an average of 2.36 out of 1,000 study participants were admitted to the emergency room after getting into a serious car crash. One year after the surgery, however, 2.14 per 1,000 patients got involved in a serious car crash.
While there does seem to be a correlation between cataract surgery and an increased incidence of car crashes, a few scientists have pointed out limitations in this study’s design. Study authors noted that the people involved in this study had extremely severe cases of cataracts. It’s unknown how striking the results would have been if researchers followed people with mild to moderate cases of the disease.
Despite these issues with the study’s design, researchers believe road safety experts should take these results seriously. In their report, study authors say doctors would have to treat over 4,500 cataract patients to avoid one car accident per year.
A cataract refers to a cloudy layer that forms on the eye’s lens and usually affects people older than 50. Cataract surgery involves removing the patient’s affected lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that cataracts are the root cause of a little over 50 percent of blindness cases around the world. This number is expected to increase in the ensuing years due to the global aging population.
Dr. Matthew Schlenker, who teaches at the University of Toronto’s Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, was the lead researcher on this study. A few other key researchers involved in this project include Drs. Deva Thiruchelvam and Donald A. Redelmeier.
Anyone interested in this research should pick up the latest copy of JAMA Ophthalmology. Authors entitled their study, “Association of Cataract Surgery With Traffic Crashes.”