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Survey: Loss of sight is a top concern for Americans

A recent poll found that Americans rank “losing eyesight” highly among the worst health concerns that could affect them. Yet only half report having insurance that covers eye exams.

These results are in line with the AOA’s American Eye-Q survey.

The public opinion poll, which was commissioned by Research!America and the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR), found that Americans—regardless of race and ethnicity—believe losing their eyesight would have a great impact on their daily lives. The results regarding fear of vision loss complement findings from the AOA’s 2014 American Eye-Q Survey.

When asked which ailment is the worst that could happen to them, blindness ranked first among African Americans, followed by HIV/AIDS. Hispanics and Asians showed the most concern for cancer, with blindness ranking second. Again blindness ranked second among non-Hispanic whites, with Alzheimer’s disease ranking first.

“Quality of life” ranked as the possible consequence associated with vision loss for non-Hispanic whites and Asians, while African Americans and Hispanics ranked “loss of independence” as their top concern.

These results are in line with the AOA’s American Eye-Q survey, which found that 40 percent of respondents worried most about losing their vision, with memory loss coming in second. The Eye-Q survey also revealed that the biggest concern about developing vision problems was being unable to live independently.

Beth Kneib, O.D., director of the AOA’s Clinical Resources Group, isn’t surprised by results of the survey.

“The findings are not surprising as vision is the most valued sense we have. Previous surveys, from over the past 50 or more years, gave us similar findings—that second to death, people fear losing vision the most,” Dr. Kneib says.

Poll reveals findings on eye examinations and health care
Although the public opinion poll found that the majority of respondents understand the importance of eye health, it also revealed some telling statistics about eye care and insurance.

Across race and ethnicity, only half of respondents said they have insurance coverage for eye exams and glasses. A third of respondents admit to having eye exams less frequently than they would like because of their insurance situation.

Likewise, the Eye-Q survey found that 66 percent of respondents were unaware that eye exams were defined as an essential benefit for children under the Affordable Care Act.

“The gift of sight is too important, as we have seen through years of surveys, to risk on screenings that don’t prevent vision and eye health problems. The comprehensive eye exam is the only security that people have to know their vision is as protected as possible,” Dr. Kneib says.

“To prevent disease, to do our everyday work, or just to enjoy life, good sight is very important! All persons should see their optometrist regularly to assure that their eyes are healthy and their vision is protected as much as possible,” adds Dr. Kneib.

*AOA Week in Focus October 2, 2014eye