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HomeminewsEye Surgery Improves Mood of Alzheimer’s Patients

Eye Surgery Improves Mood of Alzheimer’s Patients

Researchers have recommended that people with Alzheimers should have regular eye tests to screen for vision problems.

The recommendation follows a study that has shown people with mild Alzheimers disease may sleep better and be less depressed after cataract surgery. Additionally, people with Alzheimer’s often had better communication and interaction with others after the surgery.

According to Brigitte Girard, MD, a professor of ophthalmology at Tenon Hospital in Paris, treatment improved the patients’ lives and also the lives of some caregivers.

Prof. Girard reported the researchers’ findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) at the end of October.

As one neurologist told me, if people with Alzheimer’s disease don’t get worse over three months, it’s a win

Despite fears to the contrary, she said surgery did not worsen patients’ general condition or dementia.

William Thies, PhD, scientific director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, said general medical care, including vision problems, is often overlooked in people with Alzheimer’s.

“The assumption is made they won’t benefit,” he said. However, “the fact that they do benefit is very much the message from this study.”

The study involved 38 people with mild Alzheimer’s disease who underwent cataract surgery. The average age was 86; nine were 90 or older. The majority (82 per cent) were women.

Three months after surgery, all but one patient could see better. Three in four patients had improved or unchanged scores on tests of mood, memory, and their ability to wash, dress, and otherwise function independently. Prof. Girard said sleep, in particular, improved.

Six of the seven people with depression before surgery were less depressed afterward. The other person’s depression was about the same as before. Some were reported to be agitated after the surgery.

As rated by the patients and their caregivers, social lives improved or were unchanged in two out of every three people studied.

Prof. Girard said “unchanged” scores were considered a mark of success. “As one neurologist told me, if people with Alzheimer’s disease don’t get worse over three months, it’s a win.”

Results of the study, which was small and had no comparison group that did not get surgery, are yet to undergo peer review.