The authors found that 3.6 percent of those surveyed were farsighted, while about one-third were nearsighted. Slightly more than 36 percent were found to have some form of astigmatism.
Some modest gender differences were apparent. For example, in the 20-to-39-year-old bracket, more women (nearly 40 percent) than men (nearly 33 percent) were nearsighted. And in the 60-and-up age category, about two-thirds of men had some kind of refractive problem, compared with about 59 percent of women.
Age also played a role. While 46 percent of the 20- to-39- year-old group had some kind of refractive eye issue, that figure rose to nearly 51 percent among the 40-to-59-year-old group, and nearly 63 percent among those 60 and older. The study authors said farsightedness was more common than nearsightedness among the older group.
The findings are published in the August issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.
Dr. Scott H. Greenstein, an ophthalmologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, called the findings "no surprise."
"Half the U.S. population needs glasses of some sort, so this does not strike me as unusual at all," he added. "And so even though many patients routinely come in concerned about having a surgical problem, it's much more often this sort of issue. I'm a surgeon, but I'm very happy to tell people, 'You don't need surgery.' And often they don't. They just need eyeglasses."
A second study published in the journal found that only 42 percent of vision-impaired Americans without health insurance seek medical attention for their eye problems. Conversely, 67 percent of Americans with eye issues who do have health insurance seek eye care. That figure surpasses the 55 percent of comparable Canadian patients, all of whom were covered by a national heal
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