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Most Americans Have Poor 'Eye-Q'

Many lack knowledge of basic vision care, safety, survey finds

TUESDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Even though almost half of all American adults say eyesight is their most valued attribute, many have poor eye care/health habits, says an American Optometric Association (AOA) survey released Monday.

The American Eye-Q survey of 1,000 adults 18 years or older found that Americans lack awareness in two key areas: eye diseases and contact lens hygiene and compliance.

"Contact lenses are among the safest forms of vision correction when patients comply with the care and wearing instructions provided by their eye doctor," Dr. Hilary Hawthorne, AOA's vision and learning expert, said in a prepared statement. "Because lenses are so comfortable, it's easy for people to get careless. However, the consequences may be dangerous, and failure to follow proper contact lens hygiene could damage eyes."

Among the survey findings:

  • Among contact lens wearers, 79 percent admitted to practicing poor contact lens hygiene on a regular basis, including showering, swimming and sleeping in contacts not approved for overnight wear, as well as wearing contacts longer than the suggested timeframe.
  • Only 32 percent of respondents who wear contact lenses said they change their case every one to three months as recommended by the AOA, and 17 percent said they never change their lens case.
  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents said they believed glaucoma was preventable with proper eye care when, in fact, it is only treatable.
  • Fewer than half (45 percent) knew that pregnant women may need to change their corrective lens prescription.
  • Most respondents (64 percent) knew that diabetes can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam, and 41 percent knew that people with diabetes need to have an eye exam at least once a year.
  • More than half (51 percent) knew that hypertension can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam, while 49 percent knew such eye exams can identify brain tumors, some cancers (41 percent), cardiovascular disease (37 percent), and multiple sclerosis (22 percent).

More information

Prevent Blindness America offers advice on how to take care of your sight.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Optometric Association, news release, Oct. 30, 2007

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