Almost 70 percent of people from around the world would rather give up 10 years of their life, or even sacrifice one of their limbs, than lose their eyesight. Yet less than one third of those polled take the basic steps necessary to preserve eye sight, according to the “Barometer of Global Eye Health,” a new global survey released by Bausch + Lomb.
Developed in concert with eyecare experts around the world and validated by 147 eye health professionals from 26 different countries, Bausch + Lomb’s study, conducted with its research partner KRC Research, surveyed 11,000 consumers across Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.
This first-of-its-kind public opinion poll sheds new light on the state of consumer awareness, attitudes and behaviors related to eye health. While 80 percent of visual impairment is preventable if detected and treated early enough, according to the findings not enough people are getting regular eye exams and their reasons for doing so vary wildly.
“For some, the eyes might be the windows to the soul. But for healthcare professionals, the eyes are the windows to one’s overall health,” says Cal Roberts, M.D., Bausch + Lomb’s chief medical officer. “Bausch + Lomb and its partners in the medical community know first-hand that getting regular examinations not only helps preserve one’s vision but also can provide early detection of other serious diseases.”
Unfortunately, one of the reasons not enough people are getting regular eye exams seems to be lack of awareness about the connection between eye health and overall health. That’s because the eyes are the one organ where the health of a person’s veins and arteries can be easily seen, allowing eyecare professionals to detect signs of more than 150 diseases, such as diabetes, high-cholesterol and hypertension, years before a patient displays other symptoms.
Through this benchmark survey, Bausch + Lomb hopes to inform and educate millions of consumers around the world about the importance of seeing an eye doctor on a regular basis to avoid serious eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, and to increase the chances of early detection of other chronic conditions.
Key results from the “Barometer of Global Eye Health” showed:
• Less than one third of those polled take the basic steps necessary to preserve eye sight.
• If forced to choose, people would rather lose their sense of taste (79 percent), hearing (78 percent), one of their limbs (68 percent) or 10 years off their life (67 percent) instead of their eyesight.
• Three-fourths of people would rather have their pay cut in half than have a permanent 50 percent decline in the quality of their vision.
• 68 percent of those surveyed say they are knowledgeable about eye health, but this assertion is contradicted by the fact that only 21 percent had regular eye exams over the past five years.
• Women were more likely than men to take steps to protect their vision, such as wearing sunglasses (81 percent vs. 77 percent), eating a healthy diet (82 percent vs. 75 percent) and refraining from smoking (79 percent vs. 73 percent).
• Married people were more likely than singles to have had a comprehensive eye exam in the past year (46 percent married vs. 38 percent single).
• For those who did not have regular eye exams, 65 percent said they had not visited an eye doctor because they did not have any symptoms, and 60 percent because they had clear vision. This is dangerous reasoning since many eye diseases occur without any noticeable signs to the patient.
• 97 percent of doctors surveyed globally believe consumers do not have sufficient eye health knowledge.
• 94 percent of eye health professionals said women took better care of their eyes than men.
“People care deeply about their eyesight, but they’re simply not taking basic steps to preserve their vision. We need to bridge that gap,” Dr. Roberts says. “We hope this research will be an eye opener and it will encourage people around the world to take better care of their eyes to help improve their vision and overall quality of life.”
The survey also revealed multiple myths that prevail regarding vision and eye health:
• 44 percent of those polled admitted they thought “I don’t need an eye test unless there is a problem,” while 42 percent said they believe “If I can see, then my eyes must be healthy.”
• Almost four in 10 (exactly 39 percent) honestly believed “The only reason to visit an eye doctor is for vision corrections.”
• When it came to their eyes, 30 percent of those surveyed said “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not serious.”
“It’s critical that we expose and correct these misconceptions,” Dr. Roberts adds. “While the majority of visual impairments are preventable when caught and treated early, clearly people around the globe are not seeing the importance of basic vision care and annual eye exams.”
For detailed results from ‘The Barometer of Global Eye Health,’ to read stories about people’s eye health, find your local eye health practitioner, participate in a poll or view an inspirational video, visit www.bausch.com/barometer.