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Half of U.S. adults may have clinically significant refractive errors

MedPage Today (8/11, Bankhead) reported that nearly “half of all U.S. adults have clinically significant refractive error[s] in vision,” according to a study published in the Aug. issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology. For the study, Susan Vitale, Ph.D., of the National Eye Institute, and colleagues, “analyzed 1999-2004” National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) “data, and extracted refractive error data available for 12,010 survey participants ages 20 and older.” The researchers “found that the most common causes of refractive error were” astigmatism (36.2 percent), myopia (33.1 percent), and hyperopia (3.6 percent).

“The study revealed that such common eye-focus problems — collectively known as ‘refractive errors’ — affect young, middle-aged, and older adults of all races,” HealthDay (8/11, Mozes) noted. And, “[c]orrective care for such problems amounts to an estimated $3.8 billion to $7.2 billion annually,” the authors said. Among those with refractive errors, gender and age “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.” But, “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.” And, even though “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.” Among seniors, “farsightedness was more common than nearsightedness.”