Canadians unaware of diseases that lead to blindness, survey says
A new survey from the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and the Canadian Association of Optometrists says many Canadians – especially younger people – are under-informed about diseases that lead to blindness.
This news has eye doctors reminding people to get their vision checked. They say individuals could be living with a preventable or treatable disease and not even know it.
"We detect any early eye disease or even general health issues. It’s important because most eye diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetes, macular degeneration … the earlier they’re diagnosed, the better the outcome is," Dr. Janelle Morin, a Timmins-area optometrist, told CTV News.
Morin said she has seen patients who would have benefitted from coming in sooner.
"There isn’t a lot of … attention to the fact that eye examinations are important and that eye health can deteriorate, without people being aware that that’s the case," Dr. Phil Hooper, of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, said.
The survey showed that while just over sixty per cent of respondents were aware of cataracts, only a quarter knew that they are the leading cause of blindness in the country.
Over a third of those who had not had their eyes checked in over two years, said it was because they did not see a problem with their vision.
Experts in eye health said it is important to look for warning signs and getting an eye exam every year for children and every two years for adults is a good habit to keep up.
"Any flashing lights, a lot of floaters, things like that. Those are big ones for retinal detachment, that can lead to permanent vision loss … Diabetic retinopathy, most of the time, doesn’t have any symptoms, until it is too late. Same thing with macular degeneration," Morin said
Though Hooper said there are barriers, like the cost of eye exams and the availability of treatments and surgeries that need resolving.
"To make sure these people don’t delay their care … until the outcome isn’t as good as it otherwise could be," Hooper added.
Experts said that parents in Ontario should make eye exams a yearly habit for their children since they’re covered by OHIP.
And for adults that have not had an exam in a while, they said it’s better to get one now than regret it later.
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