Dr. Seuss once said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” Isn’t that the truth? It is human nature to take life’s gifts for granted, and we never appreciate those gifts fully until they are gone. We could say that this same truth applies to our eyesight. None of us value the gift of clear vision until we are affected by eye disease.
What disease did you use to fill in the blank? Be honest. Were you even able to come up with the name of an eye disease on your own? If you could not think of one, you are not alone. A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that many Americans cannot name a single eye disease, although they agree that healthy vision and good eyesight are vital to overall health.
Adrienne W. Scott, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and a team of colleagues, conducted a study to assess:
- how Americans prioritize healthy vision compared to other senses and abilities
- how informed Americans are about major eye diseases
Using online data from 2,044 U.S. adults, including non-Hispanic whites and minority groups, the team found that U.S. adults have little understanding about major eye diseases and their associated risk factors.
The results from the first portion of the study were not surprising. 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 because it affected their quality of life and their 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.
The second part of the study was not as predictable. The majority of the respondents agreed that good vision was essential to overall health, but they actually knew very little about the most prevalent types of eye disease that would threaten their eyesight. Twenty-five percent of respondents could not name a single eye disease or condition.
The other 75 percent were aware of at least one eye condition. Cataracts were the most well-known, followed by glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. When the team asked the respondents what risk factors contributed to vision loss, 75 percent of respondents identified sunlight, 58 percent identified family heritage and 50 percent identified smoking.
Stay in-the-know about eye diseases that could affect your vision by making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam. One short exam can test the clarity of your vision, evaluate your eyes for potential disease and offer a window into your overall health!