Gender differences may factor into presbyopia assistance

July 5, 2012
Ophthalmology Times Staff Reports

Ophthalmologists should consider gender differences in arm length and reading distance preferences when prescribing reading glasses or bifocal lenses, according to a recent study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. Such factors mean that women tend to desire assistance with presbyopia symptoms earlier than men do.

Rockville, MD-Ophthalmologists should consider gender differences in arm length and reading distance preferences when prescribing reading glasses or bifocal lenses, according to a recent study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. Such factors mean that women tend to desire assistance with presbyopia symptoms earlier than men do.

Using a meta-analysis of nine cross-sectional studies to compare the prevalence and magnitude of presbyopia among men and women, a team of researchers further subdivided the analysis to determine what differences in presbyopia might exist between men and women.

Although the results of a subgroup of studies demonstrated no significant gender-related difference in the eye’s ability to focus clearly on objects at near distances, the overall analysis provided evidence that women need higher-power reading glasses or bifocals more than do men of an equivalent age. This discrepancy likely is due to differences in preferred reading distances or arm length: women tend to hold reading materials closer to themselves than men do, according to the researchers.

“These findings could [affect] global vision care in multiple ways,” said the study’s first author, Adam Hickenbotham, OD, MPH, PhD, of the bioengineering department and School of Optometry of the University of California, Berkeley. “The findings reinforce the need for presbyopia correction programs for women-a group that often has greater unmet vision needs in developing countries. It also points out that presbyopia is a multifactorial problem and requires solutions that are tailored to each individual.”

The researchers recommend that clinicians to do more than measure the eye’s ability to focus when diagnosing presbyopia. They also call for longitudinal studies that consider the interaction between the preferred reading distance and the change in accommodative amplitude across time for men and women, to help determine to what extent biological or environmental factors play a role in the loss of focusing ability with increasing age.

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