Nearly all Canadians strongly believe that vision health is important, but they do not know the basics of vision loss prevention or treatment, says a report released on May 7, 2015, by the CNIB. The National Vision Health Report was commissioned by the CNIB for Vision Health Month 2015 and is the first survey of its kind in Canada.
The report researched public awareness, behaviors, and opinions regarding vision health. “There are an estimated 5.5 million Canadians living with a vision-threatening eye disease, and many more at risk,” said John M. Rafferty, President and CEO of CNIB. “This report shows they may not be doing all they can to save their sight.”
The data revealed that Canadians do think that vision health is important, but lack knowledge about vision loss and prevention of eye conditions. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the respondents said that they had not had their eyes examined within the last two years and 15 percent could not recall when their children last had an eye exam. The researchers concluded that Canadians require knowledge that not only talks about vision health, but also provides information about the resources available to those who are losing their vision, such as post-vision loss rehabilitation therapy.
- 92 percent of the survey respondents believe that eye exams are an important part of maintaining their health
- When asked their health priorities, vision loss came third behind heart health and weight management
- 82 percent said they teach their children that regular eye exams are important
- 47 percent did not know if they had a family history of eye disease or the hereditary risk factors for conditions such as glaucoma
- 40 percent were unaware of age-related macular degeneration, the most common eye disease that causes vision loss
- One in three respondents said they knew someone who was blind or partially-sighted, but 69 percent that there is a general stigma regarding people with vision loss
- The respondents felt when people lose their sight, they lose their self-confidence (83 percent) and their independence (87 percent)
The CNIB, Canadian Ophthalmological Society, the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Opticians Association of Canada, and other community organizations signed a Canadian Patient Charter for Vision Care on May 7, 2015. The charter is a commitment by these organizations to provide optimal patient-centered care at all the stages of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and post-vision rehabilitation therapy.
“It is incumbent on all members of the eye health and vision care community to come together and do better,” said Rafferty. “This Vision Health Month, we’re taking the first step toward that goal.”