The Harris Poll recently conducted a survey on behalf of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) to assess knowledge of visual health. The results were eye-opening.
With the number of people affected by potentially blinding eye diseases expected to double in the coming years, AAO is urging individuals to fill in key knowledge gaps and address risk factors within their control and asking physicians to help in education efforts. "Medical professionals in Tennessee need to work together to educate our patients that vision loss can also amplify the adverse effects of other illnesses," said Rebecca Taylor, MD, an ophthalmologist with Saint Thomas West Hospital and Nashville Vision Associates. "Only one in four of those surveyed knew that vision loss in adults is associated with psychological problems such as social isolation and depression."
Other key findings from the online survey of more than 3,500 U.S. adults included:
- While 83 percent of Tennesseans say they are knowledgeable about eye/vision health, less than 1 in 5 (19 percent) were able to correctly identify the three main causes of blindness in the U.S., which are glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration(AMD) and diabetic eye disease.
- Less than half (47 percent) of respondents nationally were aware that vision loss and blindness do not affect all people equally.
- Only around one-third of adults (37 percent) know you do not always experience symptoms before you lose vision to eye diseases.
- Less than half (43 percent) of Tennesseans surveyed were aware your brain can make it difficult to know if you are losing your vision by adapting to vision loss.
"The discrepancy between what Tennesseans think they know about vision health compared to what they actually know is alarming," noted Taylor. "The year 2020 is the perfect time to encourage your patients to see their ophthalmologist for a baseline eye exam."
AAO recommends that healthy adults see an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive, baseline eye exam by age 40 and have their eyes checked every year or two at age 65 or older. Getting ahead of eye issues is critical. "Far too often, we witness the consequences of patients entering the ophthalmologist's office too late to avoid severe vision loss," said AAO President Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD. "In 2020, we want all Americans to have clear vision when it comes to eye health."
Multiple studies have shown people fear vision loss more than many other diseases and serious health problems. The new study shows Americans are scared about an issue they know very little about. Physicians are encouraged to direct patients to ophthalmologist-reviewed information about eye health, diseases and treatment options by going online to AAO.org/EyeSmart.