There is such truth to the famous quote, “You never appreciate something until it is gone.” Although we are not sure who should receive credit for these words, the bittersweet understanding of its validity is universal. These words are especially fitting when considering our eyesight. How many of us wake up delighted that we can see the sunrise or the faces of those we love? We simply expect that clear vision will be available to us for the duration of our lifetime.
A recent study sheds some new light on our high expectations for optimum eyesight. JAMA Ophthalmology recently published a research article that found that many U.S. adults have little understanding about major eye diseases and their associated risk factors. Although good vision health is considered a top priority, most of us are uninformed about the conditions that threaten our vision.
Adrienne W. Scott, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and a team of colleagues, used online data to analyze the importance and awareness of eye health among 2,044 U.S. adults including non-Hispanic whites and minority groups. The team found that 63 percent of respondents reported wearing glasses.
Overall, 87.5 percent of respondents stated that good vision was vital to overall health, and almost half of respondents (47.4 percent) ranked losing vision as the worst health outcome. The two most-cited consequences of vision loss from the respondents were quality of life and loss of independence. When respondents compared losing vision to losing other abilities, the team found that the prospect of vision loss was rated as equal to or worse than losing hearing, memory, speech, or even a limb.
As important as vision was to the respondents, the team found a huge disparity between the value that the respondents placed on their vision and their knowledge of the most prevalent types of eye disease. One-quarter of the respondents were not aware of any eye conditions at all. The other 75 percent were aware of at least one eye condition, with cataracts being the most well-known, followed by glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. When asked about the risk factors that contributed to vision loss, respondents identified sunlight (75 percent), family heritage (58.3 percent) and smoking (50 percent).
Dr. Scott and her team concluded, “Many Americans were unaware of important eye diseases and their behavioral or familial risk factors.” The best way to maintain eye health and increase awareness of common eye diseases is through routine comprehensive eye exams. If it has been more than two years since your last comprehensive eye exam, make an appointment with your ophthalmologist or contact one of our qualified eye care professionals in your area (Source: Doctor’s Lounge).