Maintaining keen senses as you age might help keep something else sharp: your mind. Specifically, surgery to fix cataracts may slow mental decline, new research suggests.
People suffering from cognitive decline deteriorated more slowly after undergoing cataract surgery, according to a study of 5,700 people in England published in the journal PLOS One. Previous research has shown a link between poor eyesight and mental deterioration, but this study suggests that improving eyesight through cataract surgery could also lead to mental improvement or a slower rate of decline.
Interestingly, researchers conducting a different study in the United States found a similar slower decline in cognitive functions among people who began using hearing aids.
Scientists don’t fully understand the correlation between cataract surgery or hearing aids and improved mental ability, but perhaps it’s as simple as maintaining higher levels of stimulation to keep the brain well-exercised.
Common wisdom holds that challenging the brain by adopting a new hobby or skill helps keep the mind sharp, so maintaining keen senses could have a similar benefit. Another factor may be that duller senses lead people to be more socially isolated and less physically active. Staying active and sustaining relationships both have been proven to support better brain health and function.
The scientists say future research should examine whether dementia risk can be decreased by addressing vision impairment early. Such an approach would seem to be nothing but beneficial.
Healthy eyes, and all of your senses, as well as a sharp mind are wonderful retirement assets!