Is losing vision the worst possible health outcome? Research says perhaps it is……

A study in the US has revealed that for Americans, losing vision is equal to or worse than losing hearing, memory, speech, or a limb. However, although vision was a priority, many Americans were unaware of important eye diseases and their behavioral or familial risk factors.

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The study involved 2044 survey respondents in an online nationwide poll designed to understand the importance of eye health in the US population. The participants in this study came from various ethnic backgrounds, including non-Hispanic white individuals and minority groups with minority oversampling to provide predicted margins of error no greater than 5%.

Most respondents believed that good vision is vital to overall health while they rated losing vision as the worst possible health outcome. They noted that degraded quality of life and loss of independence as the top concern on vision loss consequences.

The study found that 1 in 4 US population were not aware of any eye conditions. Nearly two-thirds of respondents were aware of cataracts or glaucoma, and only half were aware of macular degeneration. Approximately two-thirds of respondants and half respectively identified sunlight and family heritage as risk factors for losing vision. Only half were aware of smoking risks on vision loss.

The study concluded that the consistency of these findings among the varying ethnic/racial groups underscores the importance of educating the public on eye health and mobilizing public support for vision research.

Optometrist and founder of My Health Career Amanda Griffiths said “I think if this research had been done in the Australian population, similar results would be found. Primary eye care practitioners such as optometrists are in an excellent position to help increase health literacy by educating our patients during our consultations.”

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Image: Timothy Krause – flickr

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