Survey: Americans Unaware of Eye Risks
Most Lack Key Information About Glaucoma and Other Eye Conditions
March 13, 2008 -- Most Americans in a survey were in the dark about common
eye problems that could lead to blindness. That's according to newly released
findings from the Survey of Public Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices Related
to Eye Health and Disease.
About 3,000 adults were randomly telephoned between October 2005 and January
2006 for the survey. Seventy-one percent of people polled said losing their
eyesight would have the greatest impact on their daily life, but only 8% knew
that there are no early warning signs of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a condition that can damage the eye's optic nerve, possibly
leading to vision loss and blindness.
The disease is stealthy and affects some groups more than others. Glaucoma
is six to eight times more common among African-Americans than among those of
European ancestry. It is also the leading cause of blindness among
African-Americans, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Knowledge Gap About Eye Health
Hispanics reported the lowest access to eye health information, knew the
least about eye health, and were the least likely to have their eyes examined
among all racial/ethnic groups participating in the survey.
Forty-one percent of Hispanics reported that they had not seen or heard
anything about eye health or eye disease in the last year, compared with 28% of
Asians, 26% of African-Americans, and 16% of whites.
"These survey results will help us identify specific ways in which we
can close the gap in knowledge about eye diseases and address the disparities
that exist," says Director of the National Eye Institute Paul A. Sieving,
MD, in a news release.
Fifty-one percent of respondents knew that people with diabetes have a greater risk of
getting eye disease, but only 11% knew that there are usually no early warning
Educating the Medical Community
"The survey shows us that nearly one quarter of Americans have not seen
or heard anything about eye health or disease, and yet more than 90 percent
have seen a health care provider," says Sieving in a news release. "We
need to educate these doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals with
the tools they need to educate their patients on how to better maintain their
The survey was sponsored by the National Eye Institute (part of the NIH) and
the Lions Clubs International Foundation.