New Research: Older Adults Very Concerned About Eye Health and Vision Loss, But Lacking in Information

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A new AARP survey finds most Americans age 50-plus are worried that vision loss could affect their quality of life, with 83% reporting that they fear losing their sight more than any other sense. Nearly all respondents (92%) are concerned about experiencing eye health conditions as they age. But fewer than 20% report being up-to-date on or proactively researching eye health information. AARP will spotlight information on eye health throughout the year with a new Vision 2020 campaign in AARP The Magazine and a dedicated online Eye Center. Content will include signs of common vision issues, new developments in diagnosis and treatment, advice from top doctors in the field and stories from people who are living with eye conditions.

The survey also shows that older adults are seeking medical care about eye health. A strong majority (85%) of adults 50-plus are aware that dilated eye exams can help diagnose a wide variety of health conditions. 61% report having an eye exam in the last year and 51% said they had a dilated eye exam.

While older adults are concerned about preserving their vision, the survey did find gaps in their knowledge. Large numbers report being not at all or not very familiar with common conditions like temporal arteritis (71%), corneal disease (53%), retinal disorders (47%) and macular degeneration (40%). A majority of Americans over age 50 have talked about cataracts, glaucoma or dry eyes with an optometrist, ophthalmologist or other health professional. However, two-thirds of adults have never talked with a health professional about macular degeneration, temporal arteritis, presbyopia, corneal disease or retinal disorders.

“I urge anyone over age 50 to get an annual checkup, especially if you have a condition like diabetes that increases your risk of vision problems,” said Charlotte Yeh, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of AARP Services, Inc. “An annual dilated eye exam can help diagnose conditions like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration before they are severe. There are exciting new technologies to help people with vision problems, but nothing is better than protecting your vision in the first place!”

“Our survey clearly shows that older adults are concerned about eye health and need more information about protecting their vision,” noted Stephen Perrine, Special Projects Editor for AARP The Magazine. “The year 2020 gives us a once-in-forever launch pad to educate our readers about the importance of eye health, and we look forward to spotlighting the topic throughout the year.”

Vision 2020 is supported by PreserVision eye vitamins from Bausch + Lomb. Full survey results are available here.

The survey was conducted by SSRS among a nationally representative sample of 550 adults age 50 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted from January 17-19, 2020. The margin of error for total respondents is +/-4.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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About AARP
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit 
www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.