General Health

Daily Dose: 11/15/12

 Reading on Digital Devices: There’s been a debate if too much screen time can damage your vision, especially with the growing number of mobile devices we use each day. A new study shoots down the claims that digital devices result in vision loss. The study showed that people with some eye diseases have an easier time reading if they use an iPad, a Nook, or other tablets. Daniel Roth, M.D., who led the study, said digital tablets can be used to improve the lives of those suffering from vision loss. Tablets with back-lit screens, like the iPad, resulted in the fastest reading speed for all participants. One hundred participants were able to read 42 more words per minute when they used the iPad on the 18-point font setting, compared to reading print. People with vision loss deal with loss of contrast sensitivity (identifying objects from their backgrounds and discerning shades of gray). The iPad makes reading easier because of its back-lit screen, improving contrast. Before tablets, lighted magnifiers were the only reading aids available, making reading cumbersome. Now opthalmologists can use this study to advise patients with different levels of vision loss.

More Doctors Needed: According to a group of researchers from Georgetown University and the Robert Graham Center, Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care and other institutions, the United States will need 52,000 more primary care doctors as a result of a growing population, newly insured people, and the ever-expanding elderly population. The researchers looked at population growth, longer lifespans of people and the passage of the Affordable Care Act to reach the 52,000 figure. Americans made 462 million visits to their physicians in 2008 (approximately 1.6 visits per person each year). The researchers said this figure is expected to reach 565 million in 2025. Under the Affordable Care Act, 34 million people will have access to health insurance. President Obama has ordered an expansion of primary care doctors to deal with the number of newly insured people.