Sure, calling grandma can brighten her day, but did you ever consider that it could improve her vision health? According to research published in the recent issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, “Medicare beneficiaries with fewer non–spouse/partner family members in their social support networks were less likely to receive cataract surgery.”1 The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor-based researchers speculate that a limited social network may be a barrier to receiving cataract surgery.

The research took 3,448 patients into account. Study participants were interviewed over the course of four years between 2011 and 2015. The work found that, among those with support networks consisting of two or fewer people, the predicted proportion of Medicare beneficiaries who underwent cataract surgery was 4.7%. For those with three or more individuals in their support network, that number jumped to 7.5%. One interesting contingency was that spouses/partners and nonfamily members did not have a significant impact on their odds of obtaining cataract surgery.1

Other research shows that cataracts—the main cause of decreased vision in elderly patients across the developed world—can have a significant negative impact on a patient’s quality of life, and that extraction and subsequent restoration of visual acuity can allow patients to maintain functional independence and improve their overall health-related quality of life.

1. Stagg BC, Choi H, Woodward MA, Ehrlich JR. Association of social support network size with receipt of cataract surgery in older adults. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2018;136(4):423-7.
2. Morris D, Fraser S, Gray C. Cataract surgery and quality of life implications. Clin Interv Aging. 2007 Mar; 2(1): 105-8.