New Survey Reveals That 9 in 10 People Agree on Importance of Healthy Eyes, But Half Neglect Eye Exams

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SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Findings from a new survey show that half of people in the U.S. are neglecting their eyes despite 84 percent of people rating vision as their most important sense. This disconnect occurs because people don’t understand the importance of annual eye exams and its connection to overall health, said VSP Vision Care and market research agency YouGov, which are releasing these findings and others today. In fact, only 1 percent of people know that signs of serious conditions like thyroid disease, high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders and certain types of cancer can be detected through annual eye exams. The other survey results also show that most Americans don’t realize that an eye exam is about more than just seeing well.

“Eye exams are especially important for the more than 100 million U.S. adults now living with diabetes or prediabetes,” said Dr. Mary Anne Murphy, board member at VSP Global. The survey found that 6 in 10 people in the U.S. worry about the impact diabetes might have on their family health, but only 4 percent know that signs of diabetes can be detected through an eye exam.

Eight in 10 parents agree that a regular eye exam helps kids do their best in school, but nearly half wait until their child complains about their vision to schedule an eye exam. “In my practice, I see this happen often because parents don’t realize that their child might not know what seeing clearly looks like,” said Dr. Murphy. “Luckily, the majority of vision problems that interfere with reading and learning are very treatable once detected. However, putting off vision exams can do irreversible damage.”

The survey also found that twice as many parents worry about their children’s dental problems than their vision issues, even though most children lose their baby teeth by age 12 or 13. Overall, only 12 percent of parents know children should receive their first eye exam at six months old.

In summary, the survey reflects:

• 8 in 10 people (84 percent) rate vision as the most important sense, and nearly everyone (97 percent) agrees that having healthy eyes is important, but only half of people get annual eye exams.
• Virtually no one (1 percent each) knows that signs of serious diseases and conditions like high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders, thyroid diseases and certain types of cancers can be detected through an eye exam.
• 6 in 10 (61 percent) people worry about diabetes impacting their family’s health, but only 4 percent know that eye doctors can detect signs of diabetes through an eye exam.
• More than two-thirds of parents worry about their children’s eye health more than their own, but only 12 percent of parents know children should receive their first eye exam at six months old.
• 8 in 10 parents (84 percent) agree that a regular eye exam helps kids do their best in school, but 4 in 10 (41 percent) wait until their child complains about their vision to schedule an eye exam.
• Twice as many parents worry about their children’s dental problems (15 percent) than their vision issues (7 percent), even though most children lose their baby teeth by age 12 or 13.
• After learning about the importance of annual eye exams, 9 in 10 (90 percent) survey respondents agree on the importance of annual eye exams.
• 6 in 10 (61 percent) are now more likely to get an eye exam this year after being educated on its importance.
• Nearly 7 in 10 (68 percent) are now more likely to urge loved ones to get an eye exam this year.

A nationally representative sample of 1,004 adults over the age of 18 was collected. Weights were applied to ensure representativeness. Surveys were conducted from July 2 to 10, 2018, and average interview length was 15 minutes. This survey was conducted via an online interview administered to members of the YouGov Plc panel of 2 million individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys.