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Elderly at risk of losing eye sight while snoring and smoking is bad for children

More than half of NHS trusts are denying patients cataract operations unless they fail stringent eye tests, writes The Telegraph this morning.

Some 720,000 people are diagnosed with cataracts each month, leaving them with blurred vision. It is estimated that about half of people over the age of 65 suffer from cataracts in one or both eyes.

But Freedom of Information requests lodged by the Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB) found 57% of England's 152 primary care trusts used eye test thresholds to determine who qualified for surgery.

The Daily Mail said the stringent tests put thousands of patients at risk, with elderly victims of the cutbacks being left unable to read, write or drive as they wait longer for surgery.

A joint statement from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the College of Optometrists and the Optical Confederation calls for primary care trusts (PCTs) to abandon caps on operations that mean patients have to wait longer. They say that, in some cases, patients with cataracts in both eyes are being told their PCT will treat only one, leaving people unable to judge distances and more likely to have accidents.

Meanwhile, the young may be discouraged from picking up smoking by the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes, writes the BBC.

A UK-wide consultation on government plans to introduce mandatory plain packaging for tobacco having just closed, with a final decision pending revelations of results.

The proposal could mean information about individual brands being removed from cigarette packets, with just the name and warnings visible. It could mean every sign of individual brands, from their logo, colour or typeface, being replaced by standard packaging simply carrying warnings and the name of the cigarettes. Packets are likely to be a dark olive green. 

When he launched the consultation four months ago, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he wanted tobacco companies to have "no business" in the UK. It comes after a ban on tobacco displays in large shops started earlier this year. Smaller shops will have to follow suit by 2015.

Further lower down the ages, children who snore loudly at least twice a week are more likely to misbehave, writes the Daily Mail today. The article, based on US neuropsychology research, claims the risk of hyperactivity and inattention increases in young children who are persistent and loud snorers at an early age. Breathing difficulties and poor sleeping patterns that underlie snoring may explain the link.

The study found children who snored loudly at least twice a week at the age of two and three had most behaviour problems, including hyperactivity, inattention and depression. However, breastfeeding, especially over longer periods, seemed to protect children against persistent snoring, even after taking into account other factors, including family income.