March 29, 2010 17:05 ET

New CNIB Survey Finds Older Canadians Putting Eye Health at Risk

Eye Care About Canada campaign raises awareness about glaucoma

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 29, 2010) -

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According to a new CNIB survey, older Canadians are not taking the necessary steps to protect their eyes from glaucoma – the second-leading cause of vision loss in seniors.

The survey found that nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadians age 40 and older are not getting regular eye exams. Many only see their eye doctor once problems arise, despite the fact that glaucoma has no symptoms and is usually painless. 

"People tend to assume that they have healthy eyes because they are not experiencing any symptoms like pain or redness in the eye, but glaucoma is really a silent thief," said Dr. Keith Gordon, Vice President of Research and Service Quality, CNIB. "Unfortunately, in Canada only half of the 250,000 Canadians living with glaucoma even know they have it. And if left untreated, over time it can lead to progressive and permanent vision loss; the disease could progress without a person knowing it."

The survey found that 71 per cent of respondents would make an appointment with their eye doctor if they experienced symptoms including blurry vision (66 per cent), pain in the eye (45 per cent), and itchy or red eyes (each 15 per cent); referral by family doctor (44 per cent) will also prompt a visit. But having a family history of eye disease isn't enough to prompt one quarter (24 per cent) of respondents to have an eye examination, despite the fact that family history – particularly having a parent with the disease – is considered one of the primary risk factors for glaucoma.

"While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatment options available to control the disease and prevent it from progressing if it's detected early," said Dr. Yvonne Buys, Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Toronto and Immediate Past President of the Canadian Glaucoma Society. "That's why it's so important especially for older Canadians to have regular eye exams."

Eye Care About Canada!

CNIB is launching the Eye Care About Canada campaign to raise awareness about glaucoma and the importance of early detection. Until May 18, Canadians are invited to upload a photograph to depicting their favourite Canadian location – whether it's a great cityscape, a view of the mountains or their own backyard – along with a brief description of why that location matters to them.

All uploaded photos will be entered for a chance to win a grand prize of a trip for two to a breathtakingly beautiful Canadian destination as selected by survey participants. Destinations of choice include Lake Louise, Alberta (22 per cent), Niagara Falls, Ontario (19 per cent) or Banff, Alberta (12 per cent). Survey results indicated that Vancouver Island, Quebec City and the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia are also among the other top beautiful Canadian locations.

About CNIB

CNIB passionately provides community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. With 900 employees and 10,000 volunteers working out of offices across the country, CNIB serves thousands of Canadians of all ages. For more information, please visit or call 1-800-563-2642.

About the survey

This survey was conducted as part of CNIB's Eye Care About Canada campaign in order to determine how much Canadians know about glaucoma and its risk factors. A random sample of 648 Canadians aged 40 and up answered an online survey. Survey results from a sample of Canadians of this size can be considered accurate to +/- 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The survey was undertaken by CNIB in collaboration with Babcock Consultants, with data collection by Angus Reid Strategies. Eye Care About Canada is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Pfizer Canada Inc.

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