Giving The Public A Headache

Does your child wear glasses?  If so, has he or she ever complained of a headache that improved by a change in lens prescription?  That would be very rare, at least according to a “study” presented at the meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  If this sounds suspicious to you, it should.

Here is the press release on the subject from the AAO, and it should be clear why its conclusion misses the boat.  The biggest problem: the study was retrospective.  The AAO has railed for years against clinical interventions such as optometric vision therapy because there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence in its favor.  What constitutes scientific evidence?  Prospective studies.  But hold on a minute … this press release claims clear evidence that vision or eye problems are rarely the cause of headaches, and that there is no correlation between the need for glasses and headaches.  And what kind of study is the AAO citing as clear evidence?  Retrospective!

Sounds like something fishy going here, doesn’t it?  You bet.  This is little more than a concerted effort by the AAO to convince the public that glasses are being prescribed needlessly.  The press release emphasizes the hope that this study will help reassure parents that in most cases their children’s headaches are not related to vision or eye problems, and that most headaches will clear up in time.

Beware of the slippery slope …


4 thoughts on “Giving The Public A Headache

  1. Dr. Press,

    Good science can only happen in a space devoid of commercial interests. The AAO statement is clearly lacking in science, and clearly biased in favour of the medical & pharmaceutical industries, similar to many of their edicts. Problem is people buy it, hook, line and sinker. These days ‘MD’ is akin to a license to proselytize, to speak in religious dogma more than in truths. Thankfully, as people find medical bills become increasingly unsustainable, and the strictly medical approach to health is limited, the truth will rise to the fore. We all know the truth, and it’s best to laugh this sort of BS off.

    Keep smiling. You’re standing on firm ground.

  2. Thanks, Charles. It would be eaiser this laugh this BS off if pediatricians didn’t buy into it, and the public weren’t duped by it. I am encouraged that fewer are, and were we not successful with our approach, these organizations wouldn’t be so aggressive about trying to protect turf under the guise of public advocacy. The tables have turned – it is we who have to call attention to the shoddy marketing tactics of physicians trying to pass off opinion as science.

    • Yep. Just got back from a day long seminar I did in Cherry Hill, NJ. Glad to say that with a room full of OTs, PTs, SLPs. and educators, speaking both as professionals and parents, they resoundingly felt that the AAO poster in question is nothing short of shoddy science, and is intuitively ludicrous to boot. In this instance, the medical emperors wear no clothes, and the white jackets with the italicized embroidered names and initials aren’t going to fool many people.

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