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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

Vision screening for seniors: 04/25/2016

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

Current evidence suggests seniors do not need to be screened routinely for vision problems by a primary care physician, finds a systematic review from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force - recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent panel of physicians that periodically reviews clinical evidence and suggests if standards within primary care need to be changed, or reinforced. The Task Force is convened by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

In its current systematic review, the Task Force finds the evidence is insufficient regarding screening's overall risks versus benefits to recommend a routine assessment of the vision among adults 65 or older by primary care physicians.

In a news release that accompanied the Task Force's report, its chair said (and we quote): 'We need more evidence on accurate ways to screen for eye conditions in older adults in a primary care setting' (end of quote).

While the review's five authors note vision challenges are common among older adults and may adversely impact their ability to function and quality of life, the authors add the Task Force's narrower challenge was to determine the advisability of vision screening during visits to primary care physicians, who are not eye care specialists.

The review also finds there is little evidence to suggest overall screening versus non-screening within primary care settings currently makes a significant difference in improving visual acuity among seniors.

In the absence of a current need for primary care physicians to screen, some Task Force members encouraged seniors to discuss vision problems with their physician and eye specialist.

The Task Force's recommendations sparked four editorials — including two that accompanied the findings in JAMA, one online in JAMA Internal Medicine, and one online in JAMA Ophthalmology. While two of these editorials criticized that the recommendations are based on a one-dimensional assessment of the available evidence, the others embraced the findings.

Meanwhile, MedlinePlus.gov provides a guide to healthy eyes (from the National Eye Institute) within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's vision impairment and blindness health topic page. MedlinePlus.gov's vision impairment and blindness health topic page provides specific information for seniors with vision challenges within the 'seniors' section.

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research provides concise, easy-to-read information about eye exams within the 'prevention and risk factors' section of MedlinePlus.gov's vision impairment and blindness health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's vision impairment and blindness health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about vision as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's vision impairment and blindness health topic page, please type 'vision' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'vision impairment and blindness (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has health topic pages devoted to eye diseases and eye injuries.

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It was nice to be with you. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!