Disclosures: Alexander reports being head of North America professional relations for Johnson & Johnson Vision.
October 28, 2021
3 min read

Global survey finds awareness, education biggest barriers to eye care

Disclosures: Alexander reports being head of North America professional relations for Johnson & Johnson Vision.
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Eighty percent of respondents in a large-scale worldwide survey indicated that they view an eye exam as important for their overall health, but less than half said they get one each year.

Johnson & Johnson Vision shared results of its second annual Global Eye Health Survey, conducted online in July and August 2021 by the Harris Poll among 16,000 adults 18 years old or older in the U.S., U.K., China, France, Germany, Russia, Korea and Brazil, according to J&J press materials. The survey was conducted as part of J&J’s Prioritize Your Eyes campaign, a worldwide effort to raise awareness about the importance of eye health and encourage everyone to get an annual eye exam.

The 2021 survey was conducted to help the company understand how people prioritize their own eye health, Carol Alexander, OD, head of J&J Vision North America professional relations, told Healio Optometry. It also sought to determine if the pandemic had an impact on eye care, she said.

The survey showed that “70% of adults indicate that they don’t plan to have their eyes examined, and yet 86% of the world’s adult population understands that losing their vision is their greatest fear,” Alexander said.

J&J tried to identify the disconnect, she said.

“There was an impact of COVID,” she said. “There’s also a bit of apathy.

“What we question now is, is there a lack of information, or misinformation, in the space of eye care?” Alexander said.

Focusing on the data from the U.S. respondents, 28% of people in the U.S. do not get an eye exam, according to the survey.

“That was a startling statistic,” Alexander said. “Then you have 19% who stated they don’t get an eye exam for lack of insurance.”

Many believe that if there is nothing wrong with their vision, they probably do not need an eye exam, she said.

“And yet another 20% aren’t even aware that an eye exam can support their general health,” Alexander added.

Carol Alexander

“Another really interesting statistic is that nearly 30% are more concerned with how their eyes look than the health of their eyes,” she said. “Is there an opportunity there for how we potentially change the narrative about the value of an eye examination? If that’s what people care about, how do we make sure we talk about the value of having a professional eye doctor if you want your eyes to look their best?”

Alexander said 44% of U.S. respondents said they prefer wearing contact lenses over surgery or wearing glasses, compared with 35% globally.

“Within this survey, you can dig down into what motivates people,” she said. “More than half the respondents didn’t realize, for example, that there are multifocal contact lenses, so here’s an alternative that may help them perceive themselves to look younger.”

Seventy percent of respondents who had cataract surgery said they wish they had known how much better they would see postoperatively, “and they would have had the surgery sooner,” she said.

Another statistic surprising to Alexander indicated that 70% of respondents said they believe their pediatrician or primary care physician should examine their children’s eyes once a year.

“Is there an opportunity for us to make sure parents understand that while their pediatrician and primary care physician are an entry point into the care of the body, that the eye, in particular, may be better served in the space of an eye care provider?” she said. “If we’re looking at a future state of high amounts of myopia globally and in the U.S., it’s important that all of us find a way to be able to tell that story in a way that allows people to feel comfortable that their children need an annual comprehensive eye exam.”

Alexander stressed the take-home message from the survey results: Education may be more important than we realized. Provider groups, industry groups and the media all have a role to play, she said.

“I think about it as a steady drumbeat of education on the value of an annual comprehensive eye examination and taking that all-important step to schedule that appointment to prioritize your eyes,” she said.