Study after study has shown that people fear vision loss more than they fear cancer, stroke, heart disease and other serious ailments. But while most adults assume they’re well versed in vision facts, few actually are. And that lack of knowledge only increases their risk. You might be surprised by these findings from an online survey of 3,512 American adults conducted by The Harris Poll for the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2019.
What you don’t know about eye health could harm you
Most people are unaware of basic facts that could protect them from vision loss. For example, only about one-third of Americans know that eye diseases can steal your sight before you notice symptoms. That’s because your brain adapts to vision loss, making it difficult to notice the decline — something that less than half of adults realize.
Did you know:
- Many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs. You may lose most of your vision before you realize you’re affected. That’s because the disease begins so gradually.
- People with diabetic retinopathy may not notice vision problems at first. But eventually this disease can cause blindness.
- Sudden blurriness or trouble seeing colors and fine details can signal age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Symptoms usually appear suddenly and worsen rapidly.
Are you at risk of vision loss?
Did you know that certain groups have a higher risk of eye problems than others? If so, you’re a step ahead of most adults.
If you’re in a high-risk group, make sure to get regular eye exams so that your doctor can catch disease early.
About one-third of Americans develop some form of vision-reducing eye disease by age 65. But you might be surprised to know that vision loss is not always part of growing older.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your eyes as you age.
Vision loss affects more than just your eyes
Vision loss in adults increases the risks of injury and death, a fact that more than half of Americans know. But the impacts of vision loss are underappreciated by most Americans, the survey reveals.
Few people realize that declining eyesight can worsen the effects of other chronic illnesses. And only 1 in 4 adults know that vision loss is tied to psychological problems such as social isolation and depression.
Protecting sight, empowering lives
Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – can diagnose eye diseases earlier and treat them more effectively than ever before. But these advances are meaningless for patients with undiagnosed disease. Nor can they help patients who remain unaware of the seriousness of their disease.
It’s important to get help before it’s too late. Far too often, ophthalmologists witness the consequences of patients entering their office too late to avoid severe vision loss.
In 2020, all Americans should have clear vision when it comes to eye health. That starts with educating yourself and sharing your knowledge with others. Learn more about the Academy’s 2020 campaign to Educate, Celebrate, Inspire. Get the 2020 toolkit, including links to download the infographics in this article, and get involved.
Together, we can build a brighter future.