Impaired eyesight

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: December 26th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The ability to see clearly is an important part of being healthy, but millions of Americans who have poor vision go without help. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that a substantial number of them have such poor eyesight they can’t pass a drivers test. According to the National Institutes of Health, the study confirms that uncorrected visual impairment is a major public health problem.

From 1999 to 2002, more than thirteen-thousand people had their eyesight tested as part of a national health survey. The researchers then estimated that about fourteen-million people over the age of twelve are visually impaired, while eleven million of these could achieve at least twenty/forty vision with corrective lenses– but do not have them. One reason is poor access to health care and lack of financial resources to cover the cost of glasses or contact lenses. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and those without health insurance experience the greatest burden of uncorrected vision.

Even more pronounced vision-related disparities exist in the developing world, home to ninety percent of the globe’s visually impaired.

The good news is the study findings will help U-S policy makers address health-care issues pertaining to vision. And the research also calls attention to the fact that most Americans who have poor eyesight could achieve better vision with the right lenses. Experts say the importance of good eyesight shouldn’t be overlooked; after all, it affects quality of life and safety.