New AREDS Study Concludes Age-Related Macular Degeneration Not Made Worse by Cataract Surgery

March 4, 2009

A study published in the February issue of the journal Ophthalmology by a research team at the National Eye Institute (led by Emily Chew MD, deputy director of the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the Institute), concludes that cataract surgery doesn’t hasten vision loss in people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study analyzed data from 4,577 participants (8,050 eyes), aged 55 to 81 years, who participated in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). Researchers compared the risk of advanced AMD in people who underwent cataract surgery with those who didn’t have the surgery.

The results of this study conflict with the conclusions of previous research. Chew suggested the most likely factor is that earlier studies may have had unintended biases or confounding variables. Additionally, surgical and lens replacement techniques have advanced.

Read the full story in the HealthDay column on the U.S. News & World Report website.




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5 Responses to “New AREDS Study Concludes Age-Related Macular Degeneration Not Made Worse by Cataract Surgery”

  • Dr. Weitzner

    agreed that screening with retinologist for every pre-op is undesireable in a cost effective analysis, especially when today, cataracts are far less advanced when they come to surgery, compared to 10 years ago, so visualization of the retina pre-op is much easier. but if i dont have a great view of the retina, i warn the patient that va may not be 20/20 post-op.

  • In a retina practice, the discovery of choroidal neovascularizationt is a very common cause of “failed” surgery. I do think it is very difficult to screen for these patients pre-cataract surgery, unless everyone gets screened by a retina specialist. There are obvious drawbacks to this. Remember, too, that the prevalence of both exudative ARMD and cataract increases with age making it even more difficult to sort this out.

    In the end, I like Dr. Richardson’s practical approach.


    Randall V.Wong, M.D.
    Diseases and Surgery of the Retina
    3025 Hamaker Court, Suite 101
    Fairfax, Virginia 22031
    (703) 876.9630

  • that certainly sounds reasonable!

  • I do hope this conclusion is not refuted by additional research in the future. However, I continue to be concerned about the possible connection between inflammation and CNVM development as there is no way to avoid at least some post-operative inflammation with cataract surgery. I suppose the best thing to say at this point is “We can’t be certain but the latest research suggests that cataract surgery does not increase the risk of advancing AMD.”


    David D. Richardson, M.D.
    Medical Director

    San Gabriel Valley Eye Associates, Inc.
    LA and So Cal’s Trusted Source of Eyecare

    207 S. Santa Anita Street, Suite P-25
    San Gabriel, CA 91776

  • Dr. Weitzner

    as a resident, i remember being bombarded by conflicting evidence on this issue. a researcher i worked with, dr. ayala pollack, suggested that indeed cataract surgery did increase the risk. i am happy i can finally tell patients not to worry.