How aware are we about eye health issues? A recent study by Bausch and Lomb showed that almost 7 out of 10 people would rather give up a decade of their life, or even lose a limb, than go blind. Yet less than 30% of those same people take the most basic prevention measures to protect their vision.

Bausch and Lomb’s study, in conjunction with its partner KRC Research, polled 11,000 consumers in 11 countries about their awareness, attitudes and behaviours surrounding eye and vision health. Clearly, the benefits of having good vision are important to us, as the following key results showed: If forced to choose, people would rather lose their sense of taste (79%), hearing (78%), one of their limbs (68%) or 10 years off their life (67%) instead of their eyesight. Three-fourths of people would rather have their pay cut in half than have a permanent 50% decline in the quality of their vision.

So where is the disconnect? The study showed an overall lack of understanding of how preventive eye care relates to preserving vision. Here are a number of common misperceptions revealed by the study:

  • 44% of those polled admitted they thought “I don’t need an eye test unless there is a problem”
  • 42% said they believe “If I can see, then my eyes must be healthy.”
  • 39% honestly believed “The only reason to visit an eye doctor is for vision corrections.”
  • When it came to their eyes, 30% of those surveyed believed “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not serious.”

  • In fact, 80% of vision impairment is preventable, many common eye diseases have no symptoms at all in their early stages, and up to 150 different diseases of the body may be detectable during an eye exam, including common conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
    Other interesting results from B&L’s study:
    • Women were more likely than men to take steps to protect their vision, such as wearing sunglasses (81% vs. 77%), eating a healthy diet (82% vs. 75%) and refraining from smoking (79% vs. 73%).
    • Married people were more likely than singles to have had a comprehensive eye exam in the past year (46% married vs. 38% single).
    • For those who did not have regular eye exams, 65% said they had not visited an eye doctor because they did not have any symptoms and 60% because they had clear vision, dangerous reasoning since many eye diseases occur without any noticeable signs to the patient as mentioned above.
    • 97% of doctors surveyed globally believe consumers do not have sufficient eye health knowledge.
    • 94% of eye health professionals said women took better care of their eyes than men.

    Hopefully the results of this research will help educate consumers on the importance of routine eye examinations to help prevent eye disease, as well as detect other chronic bodily conditions.