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Cataract Removal and Alzheimer's Disease

This study is ongoing, but not recruiting participants.
Case Western Reserve University
MetroHealth Medical Center
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Grover C. Gilmore, PhD., Case Western Reserve University Identifier:
First received: June 15, 2009
Last updated: November 17, 2016
Last verified: November 2016
Two very common aging-related diseases in older adults are Alzheimer's disease (AD) and cataracts. In elderly adults, these two diseases frequently occur in the same person. Although a cure for AD is currently unavailable, cataracts can be effectively treated with surgery in most people. The removal of cataracts has documented benefits for visual performance and for reducing accidents and falls. However, it has been the experience of the ophthalmologists, and others in the field, that patients, caregivers, and primary care doctors are reluctant to proceed with cataract surgery once an individual is given the diagnosis of AD. It is thought that cataract surgery will not improve the AD patient's quality of life, vision, and cognition. The investigators have designed this study to determine whether or not this is true.

Condition Intervention
Cataracts Alzheimer's Disease Procedure: Immediate Cataract Surgery

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Official Title: Therapeutic Effects of Cataract Removal in Alzheimer's Disease

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Grover C. Gilmore, PhD., Case Western Reserve University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Visual acuity, spatial contrast sensitivity, visual perception and cognition [ Time Frame: Baseline and Month 6 ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Independent function [ Time Frame: Baseline and Month 6 ]
  • Quality of Life [ Time Frame: Baseline and Month 6 ]
  • Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer [ Time Frame: Baseline, Months 2,4, & 6 ]

Enrollment: 122
Study Start Date: June 2009
Estimated Study Completion Date: August 2017
Estimated Primary Completion Date: January 2017 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Active Comparator: Immediate Cataract Surgery
Subjects randomly selected into the Immediate Surgery group will have their cataract surgery scheduled one month from the time their initial study visits are completed. The subjects will be followed monthly for a period of 6 months for surgical and non-surgical adverse events. At the 6-month point, subjects will receive a final comprehensive eye exam and neuropsychological testing. The research partners will complete final activities of daily living and resource utilization questionnaires.
Procedure: Immediate Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery, as part of standard of care, will be performed on 1/2 of the group under investigation.
No Intervention: Delayed Cataract Surgery
Subjects selected into the Delayed Surgery group will be asked to delay their surgery for 6 months after their initial study visits. At 6 months, this group will also undergo the same testing as the Surgery Group.

Detailed Description:

In this project, we propose to test the following clinical hypothesis, while addressing the primary and two secondary Specific Aims:

Hypothesis: Cataract removal produces measurable benefits in vision, perception, independent function, and quality of life in patients with co-morbid Alzheimer's disease.

Primary Specific Aim: To determine the effects of cataract removal on visual acuity, spatial contrast sensitivity, vision dependent functions, visual information processing, and quality of life in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Secondary Specific Aims.

  1. To delineate the baseline characteristics of those patients who benefit most from the surgical intervention.
  2. To assess the thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) with optical coherence tomography (OCT) in large samples of AD patients classified with mild or moderate dementia to determine if the thickness of the RNFL is associated with dementia severity, visual performance measures, and other patient characteristics.

The study is designed as a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) with two cohorts of AD patients in a longitudinal investigation. Each person will be evaluated periodically over a 6 month period. All participants will be diagnosed with visually significant bilateral cataractous lens. The cohorts will be established by randomly assigning patients to either the immediate or the (optional) delayed surgery group. Patients will be stratified by AD severity (CDR mild or moderate) and cataract severity prior to being randomized. Comparisons between and within groups will test the change over time in vision, visual information processing, and quality of life associated with or without the removal of cataracts. The RNFL thickness of each person will be evaluated with optical coherence tomography (OCT). The thickness of the RNFL will be compared across dementia severity levels. Each consented participant will have a consenting study partner who may be referred to as a Research Partner, and who will often be the participant's caregiver. The latter will help to assure protocol adherence by the AD participants and will provide information about behavioral symptoms, activities of daily living, and amount of resources used. The study will demonstrate the clinical efficacy of cataract removal as a direct intervention to potentially improve the visual and cognitive functions, and the quality of life in persons diagnosed with AD.


Ages Eligible for Study:   50 Years to 90 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • age 50 and older
  • clinical diagnosis of possible/probable Alzheimer's disease, or other type of dementia, mild (CDR-1), moderate (CDR-2), or severe (CDR-3)
  • at least 1 visually significant cataract
  • no ocular pathology
  • psychotropic drug must be with stable dosage for 30 days

Exclusion Criteria:

  • history of cataract removal
  • history of visually significant retinal, or optic nerve abnormalities
  • informed consent cannot be obtained from either subject or their research partner
  • subject shows evidence (in preoperative testing) of unstable cardiac or pulmonary function
  • history of uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension
  • history of stroke in areas known to affect cognition
  • life expectancy of less than 1 year
  • Down's Syndrome
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00921297

United States, Ohio
University Hospitals Case Medical Center
Cleveland, Ohio, United States, 44106
MetroHealth Medical Center
Cleveland, Ohio, United States, 44109
Sponsors and Collaborators
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Case Western Reserve University
MetroHealth Medical Center
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Principal Investigator: Grover C. Gilmore, PhD. Case Western Reserve University
Study Director: Sara Debanne, PhD. Case Western Reserve University
Study Director: Julie Belkin, M.D. University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Study Director: Jonathan Lass, M.D. University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Study Director: Alan Lerner, M.D. University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Study Director: Thomas Steinemann, M.D. MetroHealth Medical Center
  More Information

Responsible Party: Grover C. Gilmore, PhD., Principal Investigator, Case Western Reserve University Identifier: NCT00921297     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 04-09-21
1R01AG030114 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
Study First Received: June 15, 2009
Last Updated: November 17, 2016

Keywords provided by Grover C. Gilmore, PhD., Case Western Reserve University:
Alzheimer's Disease
vision impairment
quality of life
retinal nerve fiber layer

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Alzheimer Disease
Brain Diseases
Central Nervous System Diseases
Nervous System Diseases
Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neurocognitive Disorders
Mental Disorders
Lens Diseases
Eye Diseases processed this record on September 21, 2017