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Shorter Arms May Explain Why Women Need Glasses Sooner Than Men

Last Updated: June 29, 2012.

Focusing ability wanes earlier when reading materials held closer, researchers say.

FRIDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- The reason why women tend to need reading glasses sooner than men has been unclear, but a new report may shed light on the issue.

Researchers say it isn't because eyesight starts to deteriorate earlier in women than in men. Instead, they suggest that because women's arms are shorter, they tend to hold reading materials closer to their eyes, which may affect focusing ability.

For the study, researchers from California and Texas performed a "meta-analysis" on nine studies about presbyopia, or aging-related vision loss. A meta-analysis pools the results of previous studies.

Although investigators found no significant gender-related difference in the ability to focus close up, the researchers found that compared with men, women needed higher-power lenses.

"These findings could impact global vision care in multiple ways," Adam Hickenbotham, of the University of California Berkeley, said in a news release from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

"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 multi-factorial problem and requires solutions that are tailored to each individual," he added.

The study was published in a recent issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about presbyopia.

SOURCE: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, news release, June 22, 2012


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