NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- An astounding 41% of people in the U.S. are not aware that most cases of visual impairment around the world can be prevented or treated according to a survey about global eye health conducted by Orbis,a leading global non-governmental organization (NGO) that works to eliminate avoidable blindness. In addition, alarmingly, the survey revealed that the majority of adults in the U.S. underestimate the prevalence of global visual impairment with less than one quarter of Americans (23%) aware that there are 285 million people living in the world today who are visually impaired.
"This survey exposes a major disconnect in the understanding of eye health on a global level among the American public and reveals an opportunity to educate people about visual impairment around the world, the solution and ultimately how they can help to make a difference," said Jennifer Gregoire, Chief Marketing and Strategic Communications Officer, Orbis. "285 million people in the world are visually impaired but the good news is that 80% of these cases are avoidable or curable, and that's why we work on the prevention and treatment of the leading causes of avoidable blindness."
Approximately 90% of visually impaired people live in developing countries and only 18% of U.S. adults polled were aware of this fact. Blindness has a direct correlation to the economy as the unemployment rate among the blind has been estimated to be as high as 90%. Eye health must be part of a comprehensive approach to addressing global poverty. Eye health is also a women and children's health issue. In fact, women account for almost two-thirds of all cases of blindness around the world. The survey revealed that there is extremely low awareness (12% of adults in the U.S.) that blindness and visual impairment are more prevalent among women than men.
The survey, however, did reveal that there is an understanding among the American public about the importance of eye health in relation to quality of life. Approximately two-thirds of respondents (69%) of adults in the U.S. said that visual impairment or the inability to see would have the greatest negative impact on their daily lives when compared to other health conditions such as the inability to walk, hear, smell and taste.
Orbis hopes to use this survey as a platform to inform and educate the U.S. audience about the global health challenge of visual impairment and to encourage people to be part of the solution.
Key results from the survey also show:
- Less than one in five American adults (18%) are aware that 90% of the world's visually impaired live in developing countries.
- 58% of adults in the U.S. are not aware that cataract, an easily treatable condition, is the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
- Only 15% of adults in the U.S. believe that access to quality eye care can help reverse the cycle of poverty.
- 50% of American adults agree that many of the global economic and social problems – such as unemployment, poverty, lack of education, and social inequality – could be improved if we increased access to quality eye care.
To learn more about this survey and Orbis, please visit http://www.orbis.org/get-smarter-give-smarter
An online survey by ORC International on July 28-30, 2014 was conducted among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,014 adults comprising 508 men and 506 women, ages 18 and older. The completed interviews were weighted by five variables – age, sex, geographic region, race and education – using data from the U.S. Census Bureau to help ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population, 18 years of age and older.
Respondents for the survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. The survey was intended to gauge respondents' knowledge of facts related to blindness and visual impairment, as well as measure levels of agreement with the statement that global economic and social problems could be improved with increased access to quality eye care.
Orbis prevents and treats blindness through hands-on training, public health education, improved access to quality eye care, advocacy and partnerships with local health care organizations. By building long-term capabilities, Orbis helps its partner institutions take action to reach a state where they can provide, on their own, quality eye care services that are affordable, accessible, and sustainable. To learn more about Orbis, please visit www.orbis.org.
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