New poll: Americans fear blindness more than loss of other senses, strongly support more funding for research

Washington, D.C."” According to a new poll, Americans across racial and ethnic groups describe losing eyesight as potentially having the greatest impact on their day-to-day life "” more so than other conditions, including loss of memory, hearing and speech. A higher percentage of African-Americans (57%) cite this concern compared to non-Hispanic whites (49%), Asians (43%) and Hispanics (38%).  

Blindness ranked among the top four "worst things that could happen to you" for all respondents, alongside cancer, Alzheimer's disease and HIV/AIDS. More African-Americans cited blindness as their top fear.  

The poll generated another key finding: A large majority of respondents strongly consider research to improve the prevention and treatment of vision disorders a priority (83% of African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites, 80% of Asians and 79% of Hispanics).  

When told that the federal government spends on average $2.10 per person each year on such research, half of African-Americans (51%) and Hispanics (50%) say this is not enough followed by non-Hispanic whites (47%) and Asian-Americans (35%).  

About half of all groups believe that non-governmental sectors "” industry, patient groups and philanthropies "” should also increase funding for eye and vision research (57% of Hispanics, 51% of African-Americans, 49% of Asians and 47% of non-Hispanic whites).  

These and other findings are from a national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America and the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR). The poll, which was carried out by Zogby Analytics, was funded by a grant from Research to Prevent Blindness and released at a National Press Club event in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18.  

Leaders from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) played a role in both the development of the poll and the release event, which featured a panel discussion with Neil Bressler, MD (Wilmer Eye Institute), Paul Sieving, MD, PhD (National Eye Institute), James Tsai, MD (New York Eye and Ear Infirmary) and Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD (Ohio State University College of Optometry). The panel discussion was moderated by Michelle Miller of CBS News.  

More poll results:

The Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders.

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Katrina Norfleet


Posted: 9/18/2014