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Benefit cuts for the obese, Lucentis made available on the NHS and glasses to beat deafness and depression

A roundup of the health news headlines on Thursday 3 January

Obese people could have their benefits cut if they fail to take the exercise prescribed by their GP, the Guardian revealed this morning.

A report from Westminster council and the Local Government Information Unit proposed that smart cards could be used to monitor claimants’ use of leisure centres, so local authorities could cut housing and council benefit payments for those who refuse to step on the treadmill.

The plans address how councils can work to reduce obesity rates amidst the current financial challenges, as more care moves into the community.

The authors of the report, A Dose of Localism: the Role of Councils in Public Health, said: ‘Where an exercise package is prescribed to a resident, housing and council tax benefit payments could be varied to reward or incentivise residents’

Over at the Telegraph comes the news that NICE has given the go-ahead for Lucentis to be prescribed to patients with diabetes with a complication that threatens their sight, after a similar decision in Scotland.

Lucentis- the brand name for the drug ranbizumab- usually costs around £700 per patient per month, but was accepted by NICE after makers Novartis offered the NHS an undisclosed discount.

Injected into the eye to stop the build up of leaking fluid, the drug can be used for certain cases of diabetic macular odema (DMO).

Guidelines will be produced next month, and then the NHS will have three months to begin paying for the drug.

Finally, the Daily Mail brings us the curious news of scientists developing glasses that can combat dizziness, deafness and even depression.

Recent research suggests that altering the type of light that enters the eye can help people with hearing and sleeping problems, and can make help people feel happier. 

Experts expect that in the future people will wear glasses for reasons other than sight.

Dr Frank Eperjesi, head of optometry at Aston University, in Birmingham said: ‘A better understanding of our visual system and how it relates to other parts of the body — in particular the brain — coupled with the development of lightweight materials has led to a range of smart specs that can be used to help detect and treat a range of health problems.’ 

He added: ‘As more developments take place over the next few years, and prices drop, we can expect to see more people wearing glasses for reasons other than better vision.’

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