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Will individuals with Alzheimer's disease benefit from cataract surgery?
Date:6/25/2009

isual world," said Thomas Steinemann, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at the School of Medicine and ophthalmologist in the ophthalmology division at Metrohealth Medical Center.

Steinemann said he has observed improvements in AD patients following cataract surgery. Some who were combative before surgery are more cooperative following it. And even though they still are cognitively impaired to some degree, Steinemann said improved vision may even help AD patients recognize family members.

"Ultimately, if you can't perceive something, it is hard to remember it," says Alan Lerner, associate professor of neurology at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and director of the Memory and Cognition Center in University Hospital's Neurological Institute. "If the vision is blurry, then your memory may be more faulty than necessary. The cataract removal may offer benefits of improved quality of life which is a major aim in AD therapeutics overall."

"This grant demonstrates that the NIH recognizes a major disparity in healthcare for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and cataracts," said Gilmore. "We hope to provide evidence that AD patients also benefit from cataract surgery."

In the randomized controlled NIH-funded study, half of the 210 patients will receive cataract surgery and the other half will have surgery delayed for six months. The researchers will follow the progress of the two groups. During this time, the primary caregivers associated with these patients also will supply information about the patient's quality of life and activity levels by answering surveys and other measures.

In addition to finding scientific evidence that cataract surgery helps AD patients, the researchers hope to identify a warning sign of AD. They will test changes in the thickness of the retina, a part of the eye that is an extension of the brain. Using a technology called optical coherence tomography (OCT), they will track changes in
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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