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Americans Have a Lot to Learn About Eye Health, Study Finds

Many would take action if they knew the facts.

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About 79 percent of Americans are unaware that diabetic eye diseases have no visible symptoms, and more than half do not know comprehensive eye examinations can detect diabetes, according to a new study.

The findings come from the 2016 American Eye-Q Survey conducted by the American Optometric Association and released in advance of November’s American Diabetes Month.

The AOA advocates for regular, dilated eye exams for those with diabetes, or at risk for diabetes, because the alternatives, like online vision apps, only check for refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism and cannot detect diabetes.

The survey also found that people diagnosed with diabetes are acutely aware of its effect on eye health and are more likely than the average American to worry about their eye health, and AOA press release explains. In fact, loss of vision is a major fear among members of this group, who report that they are three times more concerned about blindness as a diabetes-related side effect than they are about the next largest side effect, kidney failure.

However, the study found that only 54 percent of people with diabetes who were surveyed regularly visit their doctor of optometry to understand the toll diabetes is taking on their overall eye health. The survey found that after learning about the topic, many participants said they would be prompted to take steps to ensure their eye health. Some additional findings about attitudes:

Learning that the only way to determine if diabetes will cause blindness is through a comprehensive eye exam would prompt 89 percent of Americans to visit a doctor of optometry.

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Understanding that a comprehensive eye exam can sometimes detect and diagnose diabetes sooner than a primary care doctor would prompt 87 percent of Americans to visit a doctor of optometry.

Learning that diabetic eye diseases have no visible symptoms would prompt 79 percent of Americans to visit a doctor of optometry.

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