A new study has found that people who suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may benefit from a form of eye surgery usually performed on patients with cataracts.
Scientists at the US National Eye Institute studied a total of 1,939 eyes at various stages of AMD, a common cause of age-related blindness.
Lead researcher Dr Emily Chew, whose findings are published in the journal Ophthalmology, explained: "Earlier epidemiology had suggested cataract surgery might worsen AMD, so the data from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) cohort study were evaluated to answer this important question."
Despite concerns about the procedure, AMD patients who underwent cataract surgery were found to benefit from improved visual acuity, regardless of whether their condition was mild or advanced.
The procedure was effective in patients with both 'wet' and 'dry' forms of AMD and benefits were sustained for at least one year after surgery.
NHS figures show that two per cent of over-50s have AMD, rising to 20 per cent of over-85s.
The condition causes loss of central vision, but peripheral vision is unaffected, meaning that sufferers do not go completely blind.