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National Eye Institute report

NEI SURVEY: MANY AMERICANS LACK CRITICAL FACTS ABOUT EYE HEALTH. Most Americans do not know the risks and warning signs of diseases that could cause blindness without timely detection and treatment, according to recent findings of the Survey of Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Related to Eye Health and Disease, sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the Lions Clubs International Foundation. More than 3,000 adults were selected randomly to participate in a national telephone survey conducted between October 2005 and January 2006. Seventy-one percent of respondents reported that a loss of their eyesight would rate as a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 (meaning that it would have the greatest impact on their day-to-day life); however, only eight percent knew that there are no early warning signs of glaucoma. Fifty-one percent were aware that people with diabetes are at increased risk of developing eye disease, but only 11 percent knew that there are usually no early warning signs of diabetes-associated eye disease. Only 16 percent had ever heard the term “low vision.” Hispanic respondents reported the lowest access to eye health information and knew the least about eye health; they were also the least likely to have their eyes examined among all racial/ethnic groups in the survey. NEI plans to use the survey results to raise public awareness of eye disease and the importance of early detection and treatment; it will also expand its educational outreach to Hispanics and increase its efforts to educate healthcare providers on how to communicate with patients about preserving and protecting their vision.