Latest in optometry: headache link debunked; iPads open up new vista

Published on November 16, 2012 at 5:15 PM · No Comments

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter

The latest research in optometry finds no link between headaches and refractive errors in children under the age of 18 years - and a clinical purpose for iPads.

The findings of one study, presented at the 116th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago, Illinois, USA, indicate no increased risk for the need for eyeglasses among children who experience headaches, and that headaches improved over time in the cohort regardless of whether the individual wore glasses or not.

"We hope our study will help reassure parents that in most cases their children's headaches are not related to vision or eye problems, and that most headaches will clear up in time," said presenting author Zachary Roth, from the Albany Medical Center in New York, USA, in an associated media statement.

"The information should also be useful to family doctors and pediatricians in caring for children and parents who have this common health concern," he added.

Roth and colleagues retrospectively analyzed data for 158 pediatric patients attending an ophthalmologic practice during 2002 to 2011, noting and characterizing the presence of headaches, as well as eye health and refractive status. The team compared outcomes among children who received new or altered spectacle correction with those who did not.

A total of 119 children (75.3%) had normal or unchanged eye examinations during the study period, report Roth et al.

Furthermore, headaches improved in three-quarters (76.4%) of all patients, regardless of eye health or refractive error, with 71.9% and 78.2% of glasses-wearers and non-glasses-wearers experiencing an improvement in their headaches.

"The prognosis for improvement is favorable, whether with or without new glasses," conclude Roth and co-investigators.

In a separate study, also presented at the Annual Meeting, Daniel Roth (Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA) and colleagues report that the reading speed of patients with poor visual acuity could be significantly improved by reading 18-point text from the screen of a tablet computer such as an iPad, compared with reading printed text or a newspaper.

"Reading is a simple pleasure that we often take for granted until vision loss makes it difficult," commented Roth in a press statement.

"Our findings show that at a relatively low cost, digital tablets can improve the lives of people with vision loss and help them reconnect with the larger world."

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