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Archive for the ‘hearing and vision’ Category

PDF Accessibility: Regulations, Risks, Solutions for Compliance

December 9, 2014 Comments off

PDF Accessibility: Regulations, Risks, Solutions for Compliance
Source: American Banker

Financial and other institutions are required to provide customer documents in accessible formats. This white paper, co-authored with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), discusses applicable legislation and recent litigation cases. It also suggests best practices for compliance and for providing accessible account statements and other electronic documents to customers with vision loss. In conclusion, the paper focuses on a solution for overcoming the challenges associated with meeting document accessibility requirements.

Free registration required.

Estimated Burden of Keratitis — United States, 2010

November 17, 2014 Comments off

Estimated Burden of Keratitis — United States, 2010
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Keratitis, inflammation of the cornea, can result in partial or total loss of vision and can result from infectious agents (e.g., microbes including bacteria, fungi, amebae, and viruses) or from noninfectious causes (e.g., eye trauma, chemical exposure, and ultraviolet exposure). Contact lens wear is the major risk factor for microbial keratitis (1–3); outbreaks of Fusarium and Acanthamoeba keratitis have been associated with contact lens multipurpose solution use (4,5), and poor contact lens hygiene is a major risk factor for a spectrum of eye complications, including microbial keratitis and other contact lens–related inflammation (3,6,7). However, the overall burden and the epidemiology of keratitis in the United States have not been well described. To estimate the incidence and cost of keratitis, national ambulatory-care and emergency department databases were analyzed. The results of this analysis showed that an estimated 930,000 doctor’s office and outpatient clinic visits and 58,000 emergency department visits for keratitis or contact lens disorders occur annually; 76.5% of keratitis visits result in antimicrobial prescriptions. Episodes of keratitis and contact lens disorders cost an estimated $175 million in direct health care expenditures, including $58 million for Medicare patients and $12 million for Medicaid patients each year. Office and outpatient clinic visits occupied over 250,000 hours of clinician time annually. Developing effective prevention messages that are disseminated to contact lens users and investigation of additional preventive efforts are important measures to reduce the national incidence of microbial keratitis.

What’s on TV? Detecting age-related neurodegenerative eye disease using eye movement scanpaths

November 16, 2014 Comments off

What’s on TV? Detecting age-related neurodegenerative eye disease using eye movement scanpaths
Source: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

Purpose:
We test the hypothesis that age-related neurodegenerative eye disease can be detected by examining patterns of eye movement recorded whilst a person naturally watches a movie.

Methods:
Thirty-two elderly people with healthy vision (median age: 70, interquartile range [IQR] 64–75 years) and 44 patients with a clinical diagnosis of glaucoma (median age: 69, IQR 63–77 years) had standard vision examinations including automated perimetry. Disease severity was measured using a standard clinical measure (visual field mean deviation; MD). All study participants viewed three unmodified TV and film clips on a computer set up incorporating the Eyelink 1000 eyetracker (SR Research, Ontario, Canada). Eye movement scanpaths were plotted using novel methods that first filtered the data and then generated saccade density maps. Maps were then subjected to a feature extraction analysis using kernel principal component analysis (KPCA). Features from the KPCA were then classified using a standard machine based classifier trained and tested by a 10-fold cross validation which was repeated 100 times to estimate the confidence interval (CI) of classification sensitivity and specificity.

Results:
Patients had a range of disease severity from early to advanced (median [IQR] right eye and left eye MD was −7 [−13 to −5] dB and −9 [−15 to −4] dB, respectively). Average sensitivity for correctly identifying a glaucoma patient at a fixed specificity of 90% was 79% (95% CI: 58–86%). The area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve was 0.84 (95% CI: 0.82–0.87).

Conclusions:
Huge data from scanpaths of eye movements recorded whilst people freely watch TV type films can be processed into maps that contain a signature of vision loss. In this proof of principle study we have demonstrated that a group of patients with age-related neurodegenerative eye disease can be reasonably well separated from a group of healthy peers by considering these eye movement signatures alone.

New From the GAO

September 29, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Disabled Dual-Eligible Beneficiaries: Integration of Medicare and Medicaid Benefits May Not Lead to Expected Medicare Savings. GAO-14-523, August 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-523
Highlights –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665492.pdf

2. Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act: Largest Issuers of Health Coverage Participated in Most Exchanges, and Number of Plans Available Varied.
GAO-14-657, August 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-657
Highlights –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665488.pdf

3. Freight Transportation: Developing National Strategy Would Benefit from Added Focus on Community Congestion Impacts. GAO-14-740, September 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-740
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665973.pdf

4. Managing for Results: Agencies’ Trends in the Use of Performance Information to Make Decisions. GAO-14-747, September 26.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-747
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666188.pdf

5. U.S. Currency: Reader Program Should Be Evaluated While Other Accessibility Features for Visually Impaired Persons Are Developed. GAO-14-823, September 26.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-823
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666172.pdf

Cost of Vision Problems to Reach $717 Billion by 2050

September 19, 2014 Comments off

Cost of Vision Problems to Reach $717 Billion by 2050
Source: Prevent Blindness

As the U.S. population ages, the number of those with eye disease and vision problems will continue to spiral upward. A new report released by Prevent Blindness, “The Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems,” predicts more than $384 billion in 2032 and $717 billion in 2050 in nominal costs related to eye disease and vision problems.

Risky Music Listening, Permanent Tinnitus and Depression, Anxiety, Thoughts about Suicide and Adverse General Health

June 11, 2014 Comments off

Risky Music Listening, Permanent Tinnitus and Depression, Anxiety, Thoughts about Suicide and Adverse General Health
Source: PLoS ONE

Objective
To estimate the extent to which exposure to music through earphones or headphones with MP3 players or at discotheques and pop/rock concerts exceeded current occupational safety standards for noise exposure, to examine the extent to which temporary and permanent hearing-related symptoms were reported, and to examine whether the experience of permanent symptoms was associated with adverse perceived general and mental health, symptoms of depression, and thoughts about suicide.

Methods
A total of 943 students in Dutch inner-city senior-secondary vocational schools completed questionnaires about their sociodemographics, music listening behaviors and health. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations.

Results
About 60% exceeded safety standards for occupational noise exposure; about one third as a result of listening to MP3 players. About 10% of the participants experienced permanent hearing-related symptoms. Temporary hearing symptoms that occurred after using an MP3 player or going to a discotheque or pop/rock concert were associated with exposure to high-volume music. However, compared to participants not experiencing permanent hearing-related symptoms, those experiencing permanent symptoms were less often exposed to high volume music. Furthermore, they reported at least two times more often symptoms of depression, thoughts about suicide and adverse self-assessed general and mental health.

Conclusions
Risky music-listening behaviors continue up to at least the age of 25 years. Permanent hearing-related symptoms are associated with people’s health and wellbeing. Participants experiencing such symptoms appeared to have changed their behavior to be less risky. In order to induce behavior change before permanent and irreversible hearing-related symptoms occur, preventive measurements concerning hearing health are needed.

Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging: Workshop Summary (2014)

May 27, 2014 Comments off

Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging: Workshop Summary (2014)
Source: Institute of Medicine/National Research Council

Being able to communicate is a cornerstone of healthy aging. People need to make themselves understood and to understand others to remain cognitively and socially engaged with families, friends, and other individuals. When they are unable to communicate, people with hearing impairments can become socially isolated, and social isolation can be an important driver of morbidity and mortality in older adults. Despite the critical importance of communication, many older adults have hearing loss that interferes with their social interactions and enjoyment of life. People may turn up the volume on their televisions or stereos, miss words in a conversation, go to fewer public places where it is difficult to hear, or worry about missing an alarm or notification. In other cases, hearing loss is much more severe, and people may retreat into a hard-to-reach shell. Yet fewer than one in seven older Americans with hearing loss use hearing aids, despite rapidly advancing technologies and innovative approaches to hearing health care. In addition, there may not be an adequate number of professionals trained to address the growing need for hearing health care for older adults. Further, Medicare does not cover routine hearing exams, hearing aids, or exams for fitting hearing aids, which can be prohibitively expensive for many older adults.

Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging is the summary of a workshop convened by the Forum on Aging, Disability, and Independence in January 2014 on age-related hearing loss. Researchers, advocates, policy makers, entrepreneurs, regulators, and others discussed this pressing social and public health issue. This report examines the ways in which age-related hearing loss affects healthy aging, and how the spectrum of public and private stakeholders can work together to address hearing loss in older adults as a public health issue.

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