Cataract surgery may accelerate diabetic retinopathy, researchers say

MedPage Today (7/31, Emery) reported that, according to a study published Aug. 1 in the journal Ophthalmology, “diabetics who undergo phacoemulsification cataract surgery risk doubling the rate at which their vision deteriorates because of damage to the capillaries that nourish the retina.” For the study, researchers from Australia’s University of Sidney “followed a subset of 190 patients ages 65 years or older with type 1 or 2 diabetes who underwent phacoemulsification cataract surgery” at an Australian hospital “between 2004 and 2006.” Next, the team “followed 169 of the patients for 12 months after their operations, tracking the condition of 278 eyes that had undergone surgery and 60 eyes that retained their original lenses.” The investigators found that “diabetic retinopathy developed or progressed in about one-third of the surgically altered eyes and about one-fifth of non-operated eyes.” The authors “cautioned that patients who require cataract surgery may simply be at higher risk of diabetic retinopathy.”

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