Intraocular cataract lens replacement and light exposure potentially impact procedural learning in older adults

J Sleep Res. 2021 Apr;30(2):e13043. doi: 10.1111/jsr.13043. Epub 2020 Apr 14.


Procedural learning declines with age and appropriately timed light exposure can improve cognitive performance in older individuals. Because cataract reduces light transmission and is associated with cognitive decline in older adults, we explored whether lens replacement (intraocular blue-blocking [BB] or UV-only blocking) in older patients with cataracts enhances the beneficial effects of light on procedural learning. Healthy older participants (n = 16) and older patients with post-cataract surgery (n = 13 with BB or UV lens replacement) underwent a randomized within-subject crossover laboratory design with three protocols. In each protocol, 3.5 hr dim-dark adaptation was followed by 2 hr evening blue-enriched (6,500K) or non-blue-enriched light exposure (3,000K or 2,500K), 30 min dim post-light, ~8 hr sleep and 2 hr morning dim light. Procedural learning was assessed by the alternating serial reaction time task (ASRT), as part of a larger test battery. Here, ASRT performance was indexed by type of trial (random or sequence) and sequence-specific (high or low probability) measures. During evening light exposure, we observed a significant effect of the interaction of "group" versus "light condition" on the type of trial (p = .04; p = .16; unadjusted and adjusted p-values, respectively) and sequence-specific learning (p = .04; p = .16; unadjusted and adjusted p-values, respectively), whereby patients with UV lens replacement performed better than patients with BB lens or non-cataract controls, during blue-enriched light exposure. Lens replacement in patients with cataracts may potentially be associated with beneficial effects of blue light on procedural learning. Thus, optimizing spectral lens transmission in patients with cataracts may help improve specific aspects of cognitive function, such as procedural learning.

Keywords: ageing; cataract; cognitive function; light; sequence learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cataract / physiopathology*
  • Cataract Extraction / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lenses, Intraocular / standards*
  • Light
  • Male
  • Middle Aged