Vision loss beat out loss of limb, memory, speech and hearing as the worst ailment in a poll of 2,044 Americans. That distinction was upheld across all ethnic and racial groups. width=

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found 47% of respondents to an online nationwide survey said losing their vision was the worst possible health outcome. The study was published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

The average age of survey respondents was 46 years, 48% were male, and 11% were uninsured. Among them, 63% wore glasses. Most individuals surveyed believed that good vision is vital to overall health, and when asked about various possible consequences of vision loss, quality of life ranked as the top concern followed by loss of independence.

What”™s interesting is the study revealed that only half of respondents were aware of macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in those over 60. Twenty-five percent were not aware of any eye conditions. On the plus side, nearly two-thirds were aware of cataracts or glaucoma; and just more than one-third were aware of diabetic retinopathy.

Similar inconsistencies were found with risk factors for losing vision. While more than half of the respondents cited sunlight and family heritage, only half mentioned smoking as a risk.

The survey, according to researchers, was designed to help policy makers understand the importance of eye health in the U.S. population, guide strategies to preserve vision in Americans and inform policy makers regarding priority of eye research to Americans. It fulfilled its intention.

“œThese findings underscore the importance of good eyesight to most and that having good vision is key to one”™s overall sense of well-being, irrespective of ethnic or racial demographic,” the study authors said. “œThe consistency of these findings among the varying ethnic/racial groups underscores the importance of educating the public on eye health and mobilizing public support for vision research.”

Joanne Van Zuidam | Editor-In-Chief


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