Health & Fitness

Health Bites: Early reading may lead to nearsightedness

Children who do more close-up activities such as reading and workbooks will be more likely to be nearsighted later in life, according to the study. The study looked at birth order and nearsightedness in about 90,000 people ages 40 to 69.
Children who do more close-up activities such as reading and workbooks will be more likely to be nearsighted later in life, according to the study. The study looked at birth order and nearsightedness in about 90,000 people ages 40 to 69. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Every two weeks, we gather some of the most interesting, intriguing and even oddball studies from health researchers around the world. Here are the latest:

Oldest children 10 percent more likely to be nearsighted

While formal schooling at a young age may be great for students’ brains, it may be taking a toll on their eyesight, according to an article published last month in JAMA Opthamology.

Data out of the U.K. Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium showed that first-born children are 10 percent more likely than other children to be nearsighted and 20 percent more likely to develop myopia, a more drastic form of nearsightedness. It also found that how likely a child was to be nearsighted depended on how much educational investment the child received from his or her parents.

For example, children who do more close-up activities such as reading and workbooks will be more likely to be nearsighted later in life, according to the study. The study looked at birth order and nearsightedness in about 90,000 people ages 40 to 69.

Nearsightedness occurs when the muscles of the eye are strained for lengthy periods of time without breaks, said Dr. Kerry Assil, an eye surgeon who runs a private practice in Santa Monica and was not affiliated with the U.K. study. Centuries ago, it happened in countries such as India and China, where children were learning to etch wood or ivory from an early age. Now it’s likely happening because of increased up-close screen time.

His advice? Vary reading periods with opportunities for kids to look at landscapes.

“Outdoors, our eye tends to catch things that are far away,” he said. “That relaxed state of expression is what staves off nearsightedness. Those activities, for kids, make a difference.”

Height affects income in leg-length discrepancies?

Typically, if a child has one leg that is substantially shorter or longer than the other, surgeons make a decision to shorten the mismatching limb. That decision may have a negative impact on that child’s financial success, a new study finds.

The study, from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, looked at 12,686 people who were 14 to 22 years old when first surveyed in 1979. Surveys were conducted annually from 1979 to 1994, and then every other year from 1994 to 2010.

Researchers found that each extra inch of adult height correlated with an average increase of $1,193 in yearly income, using 2010 inflation-adjusted figures, with a $1,660 increase per inch for men. That means that over 50 years of employment, a 70-inch-tall male would earn $166,000 more in lifetime income than a 68-inch-tall male, according to the findings.

“If, as this study suggests, adult height and income are correlated, limb-lengthening procedures may have some overlooked benefits,” said Eric J. Peng, the Case Western medical student who analyzed the data, in a news release.

Surgeons typically opt not to lengthen the shorter leg for patients with leg discrepancies because it’s a more complicated approach, but may want to reconsider in light of the data. The study was presented in October at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ National Conference & Exhibition.

Patients flying solo after surgery less likely to recover

Thinking about divorce? Make sure you don’t have any major heart surgeries coming up, a study out of the University of Pennsylvania suggests.

Patients who are divorced, separated or widowed had an approximately 40 percent greater chance of dying or developing a new functional disability in the first two years following cardiac surgery than their married peers, the October study of 30,000 people over age 50 showed.

Researchers expect the discrepancy is related to a lack of input from significant others on choice of hospital, as well as the demands of self-care after major procedures.

“Understanding this may be useful for identifying patients who may be in need of additional support and targeted interventions aimed at improving functional recovery,” said study co-author Dr. Mark Neuman in a news release.

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola

  Comments