JAMA Ophthalmology, October 2016
To assess knowledge of eye health and attitudes about vision in the U.S. population, Scott et al. carried out a survey encompassing all ethnic and racial groups. They found that respondents gave high priority to the sense of vision and supported ongoing research on vision and eye health. However, many were not aware of some important eye diseases, including macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Among the 2,044 survey respondents, with a mean age of 46.2 years, 48% were male, 11% were uninsured, and 63% reported wearing glasses. Most (87.5%) believed that good vision is vital to overall health, while 47.4% rated losing vision as the worst possible health outcome. Across all racial/ethnic groups, blindness was ranked as the first or second worst disease or ailment that could happen to them. They ranked losing vision as equal to or worse than losing hearing, memory, speech, or a limb. When asked about various possible consequences of vision loss, quality of life ranked as the top concern, followed by loss of independence.
With regard to knowledge about eye health, nearly two-thirds of respondents were aware of cataracts (65.8%) or glaucoma (63.4%); only half were aware of macular degeneration; 37.3% were aware of diabetic retinopathy; and 25% were not aware of any eye conditions. Approximately 75.8% and 58.3%, respectively, identified sunlight and family heritage as risk factors for losing vision; only half were aware of smoking risks in vision loss.
National support of research focused on eye and vision disorders was considered a priority by 81.5%. Moreover, almost half (47.9%) thought that governmental and nongovernmental financial support of such research should be increased.
In conclusion, these finding suggest that most Americans across all ethnic and racial groups consider that losing eyesight would have the greatest impact on their daily life when ranked against other health conditions including loss of limb, memory, hearing, or speech. Further, the survey shows strong support for research in eye health. However, the data also demonstrate the need to raise public awareness of some important eye diseases and risk factors.
The original article can be found here.