ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
CANCER
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Household Chemicals May Affect Cholesterol Levels
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
EYE CARE, VISION
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
FITNESS
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
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Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- About half of all American adults don't have the 20/20 vision physicians consider optimal because they are nearsighted, farsighted, or have an irregular corneal curve known as astigmatism, a large, new study reports.

The study revealed that such common eye-focus problems -- collectively known as "refractive errors"-- affect young, middle-aged and older adults of all races. Corrective care for such problems amounts to an estimated $3.8 billion to $7.2 billion annually, the researchers said.

"I think this study demonstrates that the problem of refractive eyesight errors is on the increase, particularly in terms of the amount of nearsightedness in the American population," said study co-author Dr. Frederick L. Ferris III, clinical director of the U.S. National Eye Institute.

"This is probably a worldwide problem," he added. "No one knows for sure what accounts for this. But it's a pretty smart hypothesis that the increased amount of near work that we're doing as a population may be increasing the incidence of nearsightedness. And it does suggest that we should be looking into ways to deal with it."

Rando Allikmets, a professor of ophthalmology, pathology and cell biology at Columbia University, said, "I would hazard to suggest that, in general, the widespread prevalence of refractive issues today could be related to environmental factors, like extensive use of TV and computers, and -- among the young -- video games. Because today we get much heavier loads on our eyes from all of that, and those are strenuous activities for our vision."

To take a current snapshot of American eye health, the study authors, led by Susan Vitale of the U.S. National Eye Institute, analyzed data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey, conducted between 1999 and 2004, involved more than 12,000 men and women 20 or older.

The authors found that 3.6 percent of those surveyed were farsighted, while about one-third were nearsighted. Slightly more than 36 percent were found to have some form of astigmatism.

Some modest gender differences were apparent. For example, in the 20-to-39-year-old bracket, more women (nearly 40 percent) than men (nearly 33 percent) were nearsighted. And in the 60-and-up age category, about two-thirds of men had some kind of refractive problem, compared with about 59 percent of women.

Age also played a role. While 46 percent of the 20- to-39- year-old group had some kind of refractive eye issue, that figure rose to nearly 51 percent among the 40-to-59-year-old group, and nearly 63 percent among those 60 and older. The study authors said farsightedness was more common than nearsightedness among the older group.

The findings are published in the August issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Scott H. Greenstein, an ophthalmologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, called the findings "no surprise."

"Half the U.S. population needs glasses of some sort, so this does not strike me as unusual at all," he added. "And so even though many patients routinely come in concerned about having a surgical problem, it's much more often this sort of issue. I'm a surgeon, but I'm very happy to tell people, 'You don't need surgery.' And often they don't. They just need eyeglasses."

A second study published in the journal found that only 42 percent of vision-impaired Americans without health insurance seek medical attention for their eye problems. Conversely, 67 percent of Americans with eye issues who do have health insurance seek eye care. That figure surpasses the 55 percent of comparable Canadian patients, all of whom were covered by a national health insurance program.

More information

To learn more about refractive error eye issues, visit Helen Keller International.



SOURCES: Frederick L. Ferris III, M.D. clinical director, U.S. National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Md.; Rando Allikmets, Ph.D, professor, ophthalmology, pathology and cell biology, Columbia University, New York City; Scott H. Greenstein, M.D., ophthalmologist, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and instructor, Harvard Medical School, Boston; August 2008, Archives of Ophthalmology

Last Updated: Aug. 11, 2008

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