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New Research Unearths Fear and Barriers to Vision Health

According to a Harris Interactive survey conducted for the Lighthouse believed to be the first national survey to examine vision loss, risk factors, barriers and motivation 82% of Americans fear loss of vision more than any other sense.

While this finding is not surprising, considering how many people are losing vision to macular degeneration and diabetes, what is alarming is that 86% of those who have, or are at risk for, an eye disease fear losing their vision, yet they do not get an annual eye exam the most important step to preserving vision. Because some eye diseases, like glaucoma, have no symptoms, and can only be detected by a doctor, we encourage everyone to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams.

Those at high risk, according to the survey, already have or a family member has — eye disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss among Americans ages 20-74. High cholesterol and high blood pressure more commonly associated with cardiovascular disease can also adversely affect and compromise blood vessels in the eye and cause serious vision loss.

Responses to the question, “What would motivate you to take better care of your eyesight?” were:

  • 62% a problem or change in my vision
  • 58% having health insurance that covered eye exams
  • 56% knowing that an annual exam could help detect or prevent vision loss
  • 53% knowing that an eye exam could detect other health problems

When asked, “Why have you not had your eyes examined in the past year?” the top responses were:

  • 31% I do not have trouble with my vision
  • 18% I don’t have insurance
  • 17% I think it is too costly
  • 13% I don’t have time

Questions also probed key behaviors that contribute to vision loss such as smoking and lack of exercise. Among smokers, 77% fear losing their vision, yet only 51% say they get an annual eye exam. Smoking more than doubles the risk of macular degeneration the leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60+.

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