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Largest Asia-Pacific Eye Health Survey Reveals that People are more Likely to Search Online or Do Nothing Than to See Their Eye Doctor When Faced with Vision Issues

2018-10-11 08:00
  • The Alcon Asia-Pacific Eye Health Index surveyed 4,200 people across five countries: Australia, mainland China, India, South Korea and Taiwan
  • The survey assessed people's eye health knowledge, their vision care behaviour and current eye health status
  • On World Sight Day, Alcon joins other organisations to advocate for greater education about eye conditions and urge people with vision disturbances to always see an eye health professional

SINGAPORE, Oct. 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Alcon joins other eye care organisations in recognising World Sight Day. According to new Asia research from Alcon, nine in 10 people reported they have experienced vision issues in their daily lives, ranging from hazy or blurred vision to severe eye and head pain. Yet only one in five shared that they would visit an eye doctor immediately to seek help. Instead, over half of respondents first searched online or spoke to friends and family for advice, while a quarter chose to do nothing.

This worrying insight was revealed in the Alcon Asia-Pacific Eye Health Index -- the largest consumer survey of its kind in the region. Alcon, a global leader in eye care, commissioned the research in light of World Sight Day 2018.

More than 4,200 people from across five countries (Australia, mainland China, India, South Korea and Taiwan) participated in the survey, which aimed to gather insights into consumers' eye health knowledge and behaviour as well as a snap-shot of their current eye health.

"Sight is such an important sense for our daily lives, yet many of us do not take the necessary actions to protect our vision," said Raj Narayanan, Regional President for Alcon Asia. "The results from this Asia-Pacific Index show some worrying trends as they highlight a lack of awareness about eye health and low proactivity in seeking help or treatment when it comes to protecting our vision, and this needs to be addressed."

Blindness and vision impairment - a pressing concern in the region

Globally, 253 million people are either blind or suffer from vision impairment1. According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), 62% of all people living with visual impairment live in three Asian regions2.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), vision impairment is defined as the loss of sight that results in problems that cannot be simply corrected with glasses. Vision impairment can also be caused by the lack of access to eye care services.

Chronic eye diseases, such as cataract or glaucoma, are highlighted by WHO as the main cause of blindness, while uncorrected refractive errors and untreated cataracts are the top causes of vision impairment3.

While age and access to eye care are factors that contribute to vision impairment, the rising use of digital devices has emerged as a cause for concern for eye health. Such devices emit blue and violet light, which has been shown to contribute to eye strain and discomfort, and may lead to vision impairment or even blindness later in life, if not treated4

The Alcon Asia-Pacific Eye Health Index revealed that about 43% and 41% of those surveyed used computers or smartphone devices for 4 hours or more every day, respectively. "In this digital age, the amount of time people spend looking at electronic devices, for either work or personal use, has increased dramatically. Research has shown that looking at screens for a prolonged period of time, and the emission of blue light from such devices can significantly strain our eyes. Coupled with our rapidly ageing population, the risk of developing eye conditions that can lead to vision impairment will continue to increase," said Dr Jacob Cheng, Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist, Director of Retina Services and Vitreo-retinal Surgery, Eagle Eye Center, Singapore. "It is more important than ever for people to gain a deeper understanding about eye health and the actions they can take to protect their vision."

Delaying diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions a key contributor to vision loss

Ultimately, more than 80% of all vision impairment could be avoided, if diagnosed and treated early5.

However, this survey also revealed that among the respondents, almost 30% had never seen an eye doctor for an eye check-up. Many respondents felt they could simply rest their eyes if they ever felt uncomfortable or because they felt their vision was good enough.

"The Alcon Asia-Pacific Eye Health Index has uncovered that many people do not seek advice from healthcare professionals about visual disturbances. Early intervention and treatment is key to halting progression of many common eye conditions that may lead to severe vision impairment or even total vision loss if left untreated," shared Robby Palmer, Director Medical Education at Alcon Asia. "At Alcon, we are committed to helping people see better. We do so by working closely with the eye care community to educate people with visual impairment about different eye conditions and steps that can be taken to prevent further eye health deterioration."

Overall, the research highlights the need for continuous education about different eye conditions across Asia, and to help people understand how they can protect and preserve their vision as best as possible. The majority of vision impairment is preventable or can be treated if people take charge of their eye health and seek help. Seeing an eye doctor regularly can help detect vision problems early on and prevent further worsening of the condition that could lead to significant visual impairment or even blindness. Universal eye health is possible and regular eye checks is a first step towards this.

Check out the infographic on the Alcon Asia-Pacific Eye Health Index here.

About Alcon:

Alcon is the global leader in eye care. As a division of Novartis, our passion is to enhance sight and improve people's lives. Our products touch the lives of more than 260 million people each year living with conditions like cataract, glaucoma, retinal diseases and refractive errors, and there are millions more who are waiting for solutions to meet their eye care needs. Our purpose is reimagining eye care and we do this through innovative product, partnership with eye care professionals and programs that enhance access to quality eye care. For more information, visit www.alcon.com.

About World Sight Day:

World Sight Day (WSD) is an international day of awareness, held annually on the second Thursday of October to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. This year World Sight Day falls on 11 October 2018. WSD is co-ordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). This year, World Sight Day's call to action "Eye Care Everywhere" aims to educate people about eye care issues and highlight the importance for all to seek out specialist eye care help to protect their sight.  

References

  1. World Sight Day, World Sight Day 2018 Key Messages. https://iapbdocs.egnyte.com/dl/UoGAwDrD2W, accessed on 11 September 2018.

  2. International Association for the Prevention of Blindness Vision Atlas, 2017. ISBN 978-1-9999112-0-1

  3. World Health Organisation, Causes of blindness and visual impairment. http://www.who.int/blindness/causes/en/, accessed on 11 September 2018

  4. EurekAlert, UToledo chemists discover how blue light speeds blindness. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-08/uot-ucd080618.php, accessed on 11 September 2018

  5. World Health Organisation, Eye Care. http://www.who.int/pbd/blindness/WorldSightDay17Infographic.pdf?ua=1, accessed on 11 September
Source: Alcon Asia
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