Eye Health Top Concern for Baby Boomers

    Tops Memory Loss, Physical Mobility

    OTTAWA, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - Baby boomers are more concerned about losing
their vision than they are about losing their memory, physical mobility and
other attributes of personal independence as they get older, according to a
new survey conducted on behalf of the Canadian Association of Optometrists to
kick off Eye Health Month this October.
    Although they fear a loss or decline in vision far more than losing their
teeth, only 36 per cent of the aging boomers surveyed felt that regular visits
to an eye care professional were more important than regular dental check-ups.
    "This research tells us that Canadians value their vision, yet the
importance of preventative eye care is missing for many of these aging
Canadians, said Dr. Len Koltun, President of the Canadian Association of
Optometrists. Among all age groups, there is a great need for awareness about
the importance of regular eye examinations."
    Saskatoon artist Don Hefner knows only too well about the importance of
preventative care. His visit to his optometrist may well have saved his life.
A routine eye exam led his optometrist Dr. Chris Strelioff to suspect
something was wrong. "It turned out that I had a brain tumour. Luckily,
surgery kept more permanent damage from occurring. I'm a lucky man today,"
said Don.
    In a national survey of 1,500 Canadians conducted for the CAO by Phase 5
Consulting, 89 per cent of Canadians aged 50-64 said that they are somewhat or
very concerned about a decline or loss of function in their vision. This
compares to 88 per cent who were concerned about loss of physical mobility,
86 per cent who were concerned about loss of memory, 83 per cent who were
concerned about losing their financial stability, 57 per cent who were
concerned about losing their original teeth, and 48 per cent who concerned
about a decline or loss in their libido (sex drive).
    In spite of near unanimous concern about loss of vision, many are still
not seeking the advice of an optometrist for preventative care. Close to
one-quarter of aging boomers believe that they would be the first to know if
they had an eye problem, and more than 30 per cent were unaware that you could
have 20/20 vision and still have an eye disease that only an optometrist could
detect. Eye health experts say Canadians avoiding eye tests could be setting
themselves up for serious eye disease.
    Beyond examining vision and eye health, optometrists also have the
ability to diagnose serious eye diseases like glaucoma, also known as the
silent vision thief. Yet 45 per cent of aging baby boomers are not aware that
optometrists can detect diseases like glaucoma. More importantly, many boomers
are unaware that early detection and treatment can help prevent blindness or
control serious eye disease.
    Conducted in May and June 2008, the survey reached 1,500 respondents
through an online panel containing more than 400,000 Canadians. The overall
results were weighted to reflect population proportions based on Statistics
Canada data. Results referenced in this release are based on the sub-sample of
452 respondents aged 50-64.

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    About the Canadian Association of Optometrists

    The Canadian Association of Optometrists is the professional association
that represents Doctors of Optometry in Canada. It is also the national
federation of ten provincial associations of optometrists and represents over
3,200 members across Canada.

    About Phase 5

    Founded in 1991, Phase 5 is an independent marketing research company
with offices in Toronto and Ottawa. Phase 5 is a Gold Seal Corporate Member of
the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association.

For further information:

For further information: Valerie Cameron, Fleishman-Hillard, (416)
645-8189, Valerie.Cameron@fleishman.ca

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Canadian Association of Optometrists

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