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Vistakon study shows discrepancies between attitudes, practices

August 15, 2012

While Americans rank sight as the most important of the five senses, a new survey shows that nearly half did not get an eye exam in the past year and approximately 30 percent do not believe that taking care of their eyes is as important as other health issues. The 2012 Americans’ Attitudes and Perceptions About Vision Care Survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive© on behalf of Vistakon® Division Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., tracked attitude and behavior changes among 1,000 U.S. adults compared to 2006 benchmark data and revealed surprising discrepancies between attitudes about vision care and actual practices.

Results show a consistently high value placed on maintaining proper vision, although the number of respondents who indicated they do not regularly visit an eye care professional increased 36 percent compared to 2006 (19 percent vs. 14 percent in 2006). Alarmingly, approximately one in five (21 percent) U.S. adults mistakenly agrees that they do not need an eye exam unless they are having trouble seeing.

“Despite knowledge and perceived importance, Americans are not making eye health a medical priority,” said Cristina Schnider, O.D., senior director, Professional Communications, Vistakon®. “Seeing an eye care professional regularly for a comprehensive eye exam will not only assess vision and the potential need for updated prescriptions, but it may also help identify and lead to a diagnosis of other health concerns such as hypertension and diabetes.”

Among the respondents who have a regular eye care professional, the study shows an upward trend in satisfaction rates. Significantly more U.S. adults are extremely/very satisfied with their regular eye care professional, an 18 percent increase vs. 2006 (80 percent vs. 68 percent in 2006). When asked about the reason for their last eye exam, significantly more respondents noted that they had established a set eye exam schedule (32 percent vs. 29 percent in 2006) or received a reminder from the eye doctor’s office (20 percent vs. 17 percent in 2006) (an increase of 10 and 18 percent, respectively).

Nearly 80 percent of respondents indicated they sought a referral when selecting their current eye care professional, with a family member, friend or co-worker serving as the single greatest referral source (40 percent), followed by a health care provider (21 percent). Women were significantly more likely than men to seek referrals for a new eye care professional (48 percent vs. 37 percent, respectively).

Sources for obtaining information on vision care products are also evolving. Eye care provider’s offices remain the No. 1 resource – and the most trusted/reliable – but a growing number of U.S. adults say they seek out a family member or friend for information. The Internet has also gained traction; an increase of 33 percent of respondents cited this as an information resource for vision care (20 percent vs. 5 percent in 2006).

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Many attitudes regarding contact lenses did not change significantly since 2006, with the exception that significantly more contact lens wearers agree that it is important to take lenses out daily to give their eyes a rest (93 percent, 2012 vs. 86 percent, 2006), and about one-in-five contact lens wearers (17 percent) say they wear daily-disposable contact lenses.
  • Cost is less of a barrier to vision care: Approximately three in 10 adults (29 percent) agree that they avoid going to their eye doctor because of cost, a 12 percent decrease vs. 2006 and two in three adults have some type of eye care insurance coverage.
  • Vision correction surgery remains minimal: 6 percent of U.S. adults reported having vision correction surgery, compared to seven percent in 2006, and the likelihood to have vision correction surgery is significantly less, declining from 10 percent extremely/very likely in 2006 to six percent in 2012.

For an executive summary of the survey, email visioninamerica@its.jnj.com.

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