Worldwide research just released indicates that a massive 44 per cent of all adults have the misguided belief that good eye health simply means being able to see well. This is despite the fact that, even across all cultures, sight is considered as the most important of the five senses.
This and other findings confirm a large global gap between vision care attitudes and behaviour which may be preventing people from seeking proper treatment and diagnosis for them and their children, according to a new survey called ‘Global Attitudes and Perceptions About Vision Care’ conducted on behalf of The Vision Care Institute, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company.
More than 6,500 adults, ages 18 to 54 in 13 countries including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the U.S. were surveyed to better understand the incidence, practice and perception of eye exams for adults and children around the world.
Respondents demonstrated a strong belief that good vision positively impacts quality of life, with 79 per cent believing that improving their vision would impact their enjoyment of life, help them perform better in hobbies (73 per cent), school/career (71 per cent), and sports (65 per cent). More than 72 per cent said that improving their vision will also help them feel better about themselves and give them more confidence.
Despite this, just over half of those surveyed have never had a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an eye care professional to check overall eye health and more than one-in-three parents/caregivers have never taken their child for any type of vision assessment.
While respondents from Brazil (80 per cent), the United Kingdom (77 per cent), Italy (74 per cent) and the United States (74 per cent) report high rates of comprehensive eye exams (with Australia next at 64 per cent), other countries stand in marked contrast. Adults in China (25 per cent), Singapore (28 per cent), Japan (28 per cent) and Russia (36 per cent) said they are much less likely to have ever had a comprehensive eye exam.
While the findings are, in part, driven by differences in health care systems, economic development and regulatory environments, these fluctuating rates are further magnified by a lack of knowledge about comprehensive eye exams and insufficient attention paid to eye health. Nearly half (46 per cent) said they are not sure what such an exam involves, and more than one-third (39 per cent) mistakenly believe that testing for vision correction is the same as testing for eye health.
Among the respondents who say they do not intend to have an eye exam in the next 12 months, the most common reasons cited were “haven’t really thought about it” (34 per cent), “no perceived vision issues” (30 per cent) and “vision isn’t bad enough to warrant going for an exam” (26 per cent).
Almost two-thirds of Australian adults have had a comprehensive eye exam, which places them significantly higher than their Asian counterparts, while 86 per cent of Australians report having had some type of vision assessment. Most Australians report not having their initial eye exam until they reach adulthood (20 to 21 years of age), which is older than any other country in the study.
The survey showed that non-vision corrected Australians were half as likely to have had a comprehensive eye exam as those who wear glasses or contact lenses and that 21 per cent of parents/caregivers reported that their children have had a comprehensive eye exam. This is despite the fact that three-quarters of parents agree better vision would positively impact their child’s life.
The survey showed that 60 per cent of Australian adults were currently using vision correction aids with 10 per cent of Australians reporting that they wear contact lenses. However, only 11 per cent of parents/caregivers report the same for their children – fewer than half the global average of 27 per cent.
Australians believe their eye health to be as good as their general health and even better than their dental health. However, Australians are actually less likely to have had a comprehensive eye exam versus a dental/general health exam – despite considering vision their most precious sense.