Canadians don't see eye danger

    Three in four unfamiliar with the leading cause of significant vision

    TORONTO, Nov. 21 /CNW/ - Eighty per cent of Canadians are unaware that
AMD (age-related macular degeneration) is the leading cause of significant
vision loss in Canada, according to a recent survey conducted by Harris/Decima
on behalf of CNIB. Further, the vast majority of the population - more than
75 per cent - isn't familiar with AMD, a devastating eye disease that affects
one million Canadians. The survey also showed that even among those who
thought they were familiar with the disease, a quarter could not correctly
identify that it affects the eyes.
    "The survey results are alarming," says Dr. Keith Gordon, Head of
Research, CNIB. "Few Canadians are familiar with AMD. Yet it is a common
disease, and many of us will develop it some day. We all need to know more
about AMD prevention and treatment options, which in some cases can actually
restore vision, and about organizations such as CNIB which offer support
    Though AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in Canadians over 50, when
asked what health problems they associated with aging, respondents were more
likely to link less prevalent conditions such as Alzheimer's disease (cited by
41 per cent) and cancer (named by 33 per cent) to getting older. A scant six
per cent of those surveyed named AMD.
    "I consider myself health conscious, but I had no idea that AMD was
something I should be concerned about as I age. The fact that I knew so little
about such a devastating disease is scary," said Bradley Ciccarelli, a Toronto
resident. "If I had AMD and lost my vision, I would probably have to quit my
job, and most of all I'd miss seeing my family grow up. People really need to
pay attention to this."
    AMD affects almost as many Canadians as type I diabetes and many more
Canadians than breast cancer, prostate cancer, Alzheimer's disease or
Parkinson's combined. Best estimates indicate that one million Canadians are
currently living with AMD - a number that is expected to double within the
next 25 years. Ironically, with early diagnosis and new treatments available,
the devastating disease can be treated and in some cases reversed.
    "People over 50 are at a greater risk for AMD, but that doesn't mean it
is a natural part of aging," said Dr. David T. Wong, Associate Professor of
Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of
Toronto, Faculty of Medicine. "AMD is a medical condition that can be treated
if we diagnose it early enough. It's important that people see their eye
doctor regularly to help reduce their risk of serious vision loss."
    AMD is characterized by distorted vision, most often involving a loss of
central vision in one or both eyes. It can strike quickly in the form of the
disease known as wet AMD, which causes the most severe loss of vision. Some
patients can progress from first symptoms to significant vision loss in a
matter of months.
    The survey revealed that many people are unaware that simple steps can
help to prevent vision loss in diseases such as AMD. In fact, there are
lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the risk of developing AMD later in
life, such as quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular
eye exams. Canadians should also be aware that organizations such as CNIB
exist to provide a range of valuable services to help people regain their
quality of life while living with vision loss.

    About the survey

    In addition to the statistics found throughout this release, the survey
also produced the following findings:

    -   Less than one-in-ten Canadians fear developing AMD the most.
    -   Many Canadians (38 per cent) think diabetic retinopathy is the
        leading cause of significant vision loss.
    -   70 per cent of Canadians wouldn't be able to continue working at
        their present job if they were to lose their vision.
    -   85 per cent of Canadians have a family member or friend who could
        help them if they lose most of their vision.
    -   Most Canadians (75 per cent) think they would have a reduction in
        their current standard of living if they were to lose their vision.
    -   The top three things Canadians would miss most if they lost their
        vision tomorrow would be seeing their family and loved ones (27 per
        cent), everything in their life (14 per cent), and reading (12 per

    The Harris/Decima survey was conducted on behalf of CNIB from October
11-15, 2007. Data was collected using the Harris/Decima teleVox, a national
telephone omnibus. Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,039 Canadians
across the country, resulting in a margin of error of plus or minus three per
cent. Respondents were 18 years of age or older.

    About CNIB

    CNIB is a nationwide, community-based, registered charity committed to
public education, research and the vision health of all Canadians. CNIB
provides the services and support necessary to enjoy a good quality of life
while living with vision loss. For more information about vision health or
AMD, please visit or call 1-800-563-2642.

    Available via satellite Wednesday, November 21, 2007:

    10:00 -10:30 and again at 14:00 - 14:30 firm, Eastern,
    Anik F2C/7B @ 111.1 West
    Vertical Polarization, D/L Freq. 3980 MHz.
    Audio subcarriers 6.8 left, 6.2 right

    Available at Toronto T.O.C. at the same times:

    SDI Router Position No. 42

For further information:

For further information: Julie Holroyde, Hill and Knowlton, Tel: (416)
413-4625, Email:; Lisa Pretty, CNIB, Tel:
(416) 486-2500 ext. 8366, Email:

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