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Cataract and cognitive impairment: a review of the literature
  1. J M Jefferis1,2,
  2. U P Mosimann2,3,
  3. M P Clarke1,4
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  3. 3Division of old Age Psychiatry, University of Bern, Switzerland
  4. 4Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joanna M Jefferis, Claremont Wing Eye Department, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK; j.m.jefferis{at}


Acquired cataract and cognitive impairment are both common age-related problems, and ophthalmologists are increasingly likely to encounter patients who have both. Patients with dementia types who display early visuoperceptual impairment may present first to ophthalmology services. When these patients have coexisting cataract, it may be difficult to distinguish visual complaints due to cataract from those due to dementia. The interaction between visual impairment due to cataract and neurodegenerative disorders affecting the central visual pathways, is not fully understood. Visual impairment due to cataract may stress impaired attentional mechanisms and cataract extraction may improve cognitive performance in some patients with early cognitive impairment; however, the benefits of cataract surgery in established dementia are less clear. In this study, the literature on this subject was reviewed and the implications for practice were considered.

  • Cataract
  • dementia
  • cognitive impairment
  • visuoperceptual impairment
  • optics and refraction
  • degeneration
  • visual perception

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  • Funding This work was supported by the UK NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ageing and Age-Related Disease award to the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.