Eye Surgery Improves Mood of Alzheimer's Patients
Study Shows Alzheimer's Patients May Sleep Better, Be Less Depressed After Cataract Surgery
Benefits for Caregivers
The study also found that the surgery eased the burden for one in four caregivers. For another one in four, though, caring for their loved one was harder. The main reason cited was an increased level of agitation.
Thies points out that the study was small and there was no comparison group that did not get surgery to compare the results to.
Still, he tells WebMD, there are a lot of things that can contribute to a person's sensory deprivation. "If you can improve those things," he says, "you will improve their ability to perform."
AAO spokesman Jeffrey Whitman, MD, of the Key-Whitman Eye Center in Dallas, says, "I find this study to be a proof of what we may have already suspected -- that poor vision, in an already compromised patient, is a burden to both the patient and the patient's caretaker."
In an email, Whitman, who is the son of an Alzheimer's patient, told WebMD: "I have found that anything that can help mobility, the ability to feed oneself, or ambulate from room to room, is a great boon."
He adds that better vision leads to better nighttime behavior. A person with Alzheimer's often displays what's known as sun-downing behavior, in which forgetfulness and other symptoms worsen at dusk.
In addition, better vision can lead to less depression among people that uniformly become more depressed as the disease advances. "The continued evaluation and surgical management of cataracts should be pursued in these often forgotten patients," Whitman says.
These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.