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About 11 Million in U.S. Could Use Refractive Correction

Fourteen million people in U.S. have impaired vision; 83.3 percent of cases could be correctable

TUESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- More than 11 million people in the United States who are 12 or older have impaired vision that could be helped with refractive correction, according to a study in the May 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Susan Vitale, Ph.D. M.H.S., and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., analyzed visual acuity data from 13,265 individuals at least 12 years of age between 1999 and 2002. Visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error was defined as presenting distance visual acuity of 20/50 or worse in the better-seeing eye, which could be improved to 20/40 or better with automated refraction results.

The researchers found that 6.4 percent of individuals were visually impaired, of which refractive correction was effective in 83.3 percent. This translates into about 14 million individuals with visual impairment in the general U.S. population and more than 11 million who could benefit from refraction correction, according to the study.

"Visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error is a common condition in the United States," Vitale and colleagues conclude. "Providing appropriate refractive correction to those individuals whose vision can be improved is an important public health endeavor with implications for safety and quality of life."

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