Cataract risk lower after bariatric surgery for adults with obesity



Burkard T, et al. The association between bariatric surgery and cataract: A cohort study from Swedish nationwide health care registries. Presented at: European Congress on Obesity Annual Meeting; May 10-13, 2021; (virtual meeting).

Burkard reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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Adults with obesity have a lower risk for developing cataract after undergoing bariatric surgery, according to findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity virtual meeting.

Theresa Burkard

“Substantial weight loss is associated with a decreased risk of cataract, especially if obesity surgery was performed before age 60,” Theresa Burkard, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, told Healio. “This decreased risk is an addition to the multitude of positive effects that weight loss has on eye health. Furthermore, we observed a potential dose-response relationship between the amount of weight loss and reduction in cataract incidence.”

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Researchers conducted a population-based cohort study of adults with obesity aged 40 to 79 years who underwent bariatric surgery in Sweden. Data were obtained from the nationwide Swedish health care registries from 2006 to 2019. Patients who underwent bariatric surgery were matched to a control group who did not have surgery. Follow-up began 1 year after bariatric surgery. The primary outcome was the first diagnosis of cataract or cataract extraction surgery.

The 22,560 adults who received bariatric surgery (mean age, 49.9 years; 69.5% women) were matched to 35,523 in the control group. Surgery participants were followed for a mean 6.5 years.

In the surgery group, 1,151 people developed cataracts, and 2,316 developed cataracts in the control group. Adults who underwent bariatric surgery had an overall lower risk for cataract vs. controls (HR = 0.71; 95% CI, 0.66-0.76).

Adults aged 40 to 49 years who underwent bariatric surgery had the lowest risk for cataract compared with the control group (HR = 0.52; 95% CI, 0.44-0.75). The risk for cataract in the surgery group increased with age. For adults aged 60 to 79 years, no significant difference was observed between surgery and control groups. No differences in cataract risk were observed by sex or duration of follow-up.

Those who received gastric bypass surgery had a lower risk for cataract compared with controls (HR = 0.68; 95% CI, 0.63-0.73). Cataract risks were similar for patients who underwent sleeve gastrectomy vs. controls.

“Preserving vision is essential to humans, and a potential delay in cataract development following bariatric surgery, as observed in this study, may be valuable information to advocate patients with obesity in decision-making about bariatric surgery,” Burkard said.


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