Study shows Canadians' eyes at risk



    OTTAWA, Sept. 27 /CNW/ - Canadians are leaving themselves at risk for
detectable eye disease believing that they don't need to see an optometrist if
they can see well, according to new research released today to kick off
Canadian Eye Health Month. Eye health experts say Canadians avoiding eye exams
could be setting themselves up for serious eye disease.
    "New research tells us that the notion of preventive eye care is missing
a significant number of Canadians," said Dr. Lillian Linton, National Public
Education Committee Chair for the Canadian Association of Optometrists. "There
is still a great need for awareness about preventive eye health examinations."
    The CAO initiated Eye Health Month to address this need and to help
Canadians protect their vision through every stage of life.
    Canadians who skip annual eye exams believe they don't need to see an
optometrist if they see well. Forty per cent said that they only need to go to
an optometrist when they have an eye problem, yet diseases such as glaucoma,
choroidal melanoma and diabetes many not at first affect vision or the ability
to see and may progress undetected leaving the eye and patient vulnerable to
damage. In stark contrast, only one in ten Canadians said you only go to a
dentist when there is a problem.
    While over half of Canadians said having their eyes checked by an
optometrist is very important to them, those that don't wear glasses or
contacts believe that if they see well, they do not need to see an
optometrist.
    If you asked Stephanie Dagenais, she would strongly recommend that they
do. Her life took an unexpected turn when after experiencing headaches and
blackouts, she visited an optometrist who detected pressure and swelling
around her optic nerve. An emergency CAT scan followed by an MRI revealed a
brain tumour. Surgery successfully removed it and she is a healthy 19 year old
today.
    "I felt like I was in a dream. Nothing felt real. My annual visit to my
optometrist saved my life. I would urge everyone to consider getting a regular
eye check-up. It saved my life and it could save yours," said Stephanie.
    The Canadian Association of Optometrists' guidelines for preventive eye
health suggest that everyone should have their eyes examined at least every
year or two regardless of vision correction problems. More frequent visits are
recommended for those at high risk, with medical conditions, as well as the
elderly and young children.
    Most Canadians who do not see an optometrist regularly believe that eye
exams are only for those who have eye problems (57%). This is especially true
of men (62%) who were significantly more likely than women (47%) to say they
don't see an optometrist because they don't have eye problems. Fortunately, in
Canadian households, more female heads of households than male heads take care
of health care appointments.
    Half of those surveyed (48%) agreed that symptoms would indicate that
there is something wrong with their eyes, and yet the CAO emphasizes that even
if you have good vision, a regular optometric eye exam is still necessary,
since many eye diseases can progress without symptoms or warnings.

    Reasons for skipping a regular eye exam

    One third of Canadians have an eye exam every 3-5 years and are not as
likely to need glasses or have their eye exams covered through extended heath
insurance as Canadians who visit the optometrist regularly. Quebeckers (21%),
Ontarians (16%), and Albertans (27%) more often said that the reason for not
seeing an optometrist every year was that they did not have time.

    For more information about regular eye examinations or to find an
optometrist in your area please visit www.opto.ca

    Canadian Association of Optometrists

    The 2007 Eye Health Report Card survey was proudly sponsored by the
Canadian Association of Optometrists, a professional association that
represents Doctors of Optometry in Canada. The mission of the Canadian
Association of Optometrists is to represent the profession of Optometry; to
enhance the quality, availability, and accessibility of eye, vision, and
related health care; to enhance and promote the independent, and ethical
decision-making of its members; and to assist Doctors of Optometry in
practicing successfully in accordance with the highest standards of patient
care.

    Leger Marketing

    Leger Marketing conducted this study via online survey. Data was
collected between July 18 to July 22, 2007. A random selection was achieved by
inviting male and female respondents aged 18 years and over to complete the
survey. A total of 1504 interviews were completed. The margin of error for a
sample of this size is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. Leger Marketing's
experience and expertise in public opinion and market research extend to the
quality and standards of every research project. Detailed verification and
validation procedures at each stage of the process ensure data accuracy.





For further information:

For further information: Nicholas Schulz, nicholas.schulz@fleishman.ca,
(416) 598-5799; Valerie Cameron, valerie.cameron@fleishman.ca, (416) 645-8189

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Canadian Association of Optometrists

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