Blindness seems to be the greatest fear for Americans, as they perceive it to be worse than losing memory, hearing, speech or a limb.
The conclusion is the final line of a survey that helped scientists to associate good eyesight with the sense of well-being. The results were consistent across ethnic and racial groups.
A non-profit health research group made a national online poll that had more than 2,000 respondents. 88% of them agreed that a good vision was crucial to overall health, and 47% said that losing their capacity to see would be extremely impairing for their day-to-day life.
The respondents believed that failing eyesight was worse than losing a limb or the sense of hearing, and even memory. People were most concerned about their quality of life and the loss of independence that is associated with vision impairment.
Two-thirds of the people in the survey were wearing glasses, but there was a huge difference between the respondents when it came to their awareness of eye diseases.
66% of the respondents knew about cataracts, the most common cause of eyesight loss in people over the age of 40 and has as symptom a clouding of the lens of the eye.
63% were aware of glaucoma, which is characterized by damage to the optic nerve that appears when extra fluid increases the pressure in the eye.
50% were able to define macular degeneration, a deterioration of eye’s macula inside the retina.
37% of the respondents were aware of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that involves damage to the retina and occurs in people that have diabetes.
However, 25% of all the individuals in the survey were unable to identify any eye conditions.
More than half of the respondents knew that family history and sunlight were risk factors for vision loss, and another half was able to identify smoking as a factor that can lead to eyesight problems.
The survey may help the authorities to draft better strategies helping the Americans keep their vision in perfect condition for longer periods, and create information campaigns that may help people understand all the health issues related to sight.
Another aim of this article was to highlight the importance that Americans offer to vision, and as a consequence to persuade policy makers in promoting eye research, as it would need more funding and more support from the authorities.
The National Federation of the Blind estimates that more than 694,000 people in the US are affected by blindness.
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