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Some Internet glaucoma advice 'high risk'

LONDON, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- A British study says ophthalmologists should become aware of online complementary and alternative therapies for glaucoma to help patients make choices.

Dr. Daniel George Ezra of Moorfields Eye Hospital in London assessed 21 high-traffic complementary and alternative Web sites for glaucoma to determine the most prevalently recommended therapies, the factual basis of the information presented and potential commercial bias.

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Only one site was approved by the Health on the Net Foundation, the United Nations-accredited guide to reliable online medical information, however, the study judged 11 sites as excellent based on a standardized rating system.

Thirteen sites were found to have expressed opinions without factual substantiation, and two sites were rated "high risk" to patients because they discouraged using conventional medicine. Fourteen sites offered products and/or services for purchase.

The study, published in the March issue of Ophthalmology, found the most frequently recommended complementary and alternative therapies were: vitamin C, the herbs forskolin and ginkgo biloba, and nutrients alpha-lipoic acid, rutin/flavinoids and vitamin E.

"Medical information conveyed over the Internet is of variable quality," the authors said in a statement. "Many sources contain advice on therapies that have no evidence base and may put patients at risk."

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