ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
CANCER
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
CAREGIVING
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Most Mt. Everest Deaths Occur Near Summit During Descent
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
1976 Italian Dioxin Release Damaged Babies' Thyroids
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
FITNESS
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Add your Article

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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