NEI Shows Most Have Good Vision, but 14 Million Americans are Visually Impaired
A study by the National Institutes of Health found that although 94 percent of Americans aged 12 and over have good vision, the remaining six percent are visually impaired.
Schmalfeldt: A study by the National Institutes of Health found that although 94 percent of Americans aged 12 and over have good vision, the remaining six percent are visually impaired. That's about 14 million Americans, 11 million of whom suffer from uncorrected refractive errors such as nearsightedness that could be improved by wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Cotch: Some of them likely don't even know it. There are a fair number of people, including a fair number of teenagers, and they may or may not know they need glasses. They may have trouble seeing the blackboard or reading road signs, seeing the ball when they're playing ball.
Schmalfeldt: That was Doctor Mary Frances Cotch, chief of the National Eye Institute's epidemiology branch and one of the authors of the study. She said providing corrective lenses to people who need them is an important public health issue with implications for safety and quality of life. She offered several recommendations for medical professionals and the public at large.
Cotch: Well, we'd like to recommend to physicians that they counsel their patients about the importance of eye health and encourage them to go and participate in routine vision screenings and to get regular eye exams. We'd like to have parents talk to their children about eye health and encourage them to participate in vision screenings held at schools. We'd like vision screening opportunities for the general public to be expanded.
Schmalfeldt: Dr. Cotch also stressed the importance of efforts to increase public awareness about the importance of routine eye examinations and suggested that people who already wear corrective lenses return to their eye care professionals for periodic eye exams. In addition to teens, people with diabetes and the economically disadvantaged have higher rates of visual impairment and, according to the study, can most benefit from corrective lenses. The study was published in the May 10 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association. For more information, log on to www.nei.nih.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Mary Frances Cotch
Topic: Vision, Eye Health