Wednesday November 5, 2003
Nine million people or around 63% of the population in Australia wear glasses and we spend an estimated $2.1 billion on direct costs associated with vision impairment each year. Surveys have shown that of those, 2.5 million give fashion considerations as the reason for updating their glasses that in turn has a positive effect on health because prescriptions are being updated on a more regular basis. Statistics also indicate that 70% of vision-impaired people in Australia have conditions that are treatable and stress the need for regular eye tests, especially for those over 40's, most of whom will be effected by presbyopia, a common condition associated with ageing that resulting in the need for reading glasses.
Gizmo spoke with Grant Fisher, National Professional Manager from OPSM, about presbyopia and its impact on the health of Australians: "It is often when people celebrate their 40th birthday that they review their diet and exercise program as the natural ageing process takes place" said Fisher. "Around this time people tend to notice changes with their eyesight including difficulty focussing on reading material and experience headaches or loss of concentration span as a result.
Most people over 40 will experience the onset of presbyopia, but people who don't read regularly might not notice the problem until it reaches the point where simple daily tasks - like focussing on your dinner plate - become an issue.
The simplest and most common treatment is prescription reading glasses with contact lenses and corrective laser surgery also proving successful as options in the right circumstances.
Fashions' contribution has been to increase the frequency of prescriptions being updated as consumers search for a new "look".
Grant Fisher's advice for computer users is to ensure that eyes are "exercised" by taking a break every 30-40 minutes and focussing on distant objects to refresh your eyes - so yes, staring out the window should be endorsed as productive use of work time.
*Data based on Leading Edge research conducted in 2001, and further anecdotal studies have reinforced the statistics since then.