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Kiwis Would Rather Lose Limb Than Eyesight - Survey

Media release: 5 February 2013


Kiwis Would Rather Lose Limb Than Eyesight - Survey

Eight out of ten (80%) New Zealanders would rather lose ten years of their life than their eyesight - yet nearly a third believe that they don't need regular eye tests unless there is a problem with their vision.

The results of the Auckland Eye survey, which interviewed more than 1100 respondents throughout the country, shows that the majority of Kiwis would prefer to lose a limb - an arm or a leg - than their eyesight.

More than half (57%) of Kiwis in the survey did not know about macular degeneration, a common eye condition which is a major cause of loss of vision in adults over 50.

Auckland Eye ophthalmologist Dr Ng says the survey results show that while most New Zealanders value their eyesight, there is a lack of public education and awareness when it comes to basic preventative eye healthcare.

"The results of the Auckland Eye survey shows that Kiwis are aware that loss of vision and blindness will severely impact their lifestyle, but at the same time, they don't know how easily that can be prevented just by simple preventative care like regular eye checks," says Dr Ng.

"The survey does show that nearly 6 out of 10, or 59% of New Zealanders had a professional eye test last year, which was a pretty good result. We feel it is very important to increase public awareness of common eye problems like glaucoma, macular degeneration, childhood eye problems and even to teach just what do to in the event of trauma to the eye," she says.

Almost one in five Kiwis believe that if they can see, their eyes must be healthy.

Dr Yvonne Ng says unfortunately this is not always the case.

"There are eye diseases, such as glaucoma, where central vision is often preserved until the disease is advanced. Once vision is lost, little can be done to restore it. Many eye diseases should therefore be detected early, so that if intervention is necessary, it has the potential to be sight-saving," says Dr Ng.

Eight out of ten respondents (81%) say their eyesight is the most important out of the five senses, but one in six (16%) respondents say that they would favour a 50% decline in the quality of their eyesight over a permanent 50% pay cut. Six out of 10 (59%) of respondents have had an eye test that wasn't part of the driver's license requirement in the past year and over three quarters (73%) would rather lose their hearing than their eyesight. One fifth (19%) of Kiwis believe that if they can see, then their eyes must be healthy.

When asked what would have a severely negative impact on their quality of life, Kiwis overwhelmingly (96%) said significant vision loss, with six out of 10 (57%) also citing deterioration in dental health, half (47%) saying high blood pressure and four out of 10 (44%) saying high cholesterol. One out of 10 (11%) respondents also said that loss of vision was the most worrying health issue for them.

"It makes sense to take care of your eyes. You only get one pair to use in your life. It's actually quite sad for us when we see patients with eye health problems that we know could have been easily preventable," says Dr Ng

"We recommend that everyone should get their eyes checked regularly. The cost is relatively low compared to the cost of ongoing problems or blindness," says Dr Ng.

Dr Yvonne Ng - Bio

Paediatric ophthalmology and strabismus MBChB (Auckland), FRANZCO Fellow, paediatric ophthalmology and strabismus, British Columbia's Children's Hospital, Vancouver Retinoblastoma Fellow, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

Yvonne provides specialist services in general and paediatric ophthalmology with a sub-specialty interest in eye movement disorders and retinoblastoma, a rare childhood eye condition.

To that end, she underwent two years of post-fellowship subspecialty training at children's hospitals in Vancouver and Toronto.

Yvonne consults at Auckland Eye and also provides assessments at satellite clinics in Henderson, Botany and Albany. She is a Senior Lecturer for the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Auckland and regularly lectures and provides clinical teaching to medical students, optometrists and general practitioners. Yvonne has also been a fellow of RANZCO since 2000, and Senior Medical Officer

at the Auckland District Health Board since 2001, providing clinical and surgical services in paediatric as well as general ophthalmology.

Educated in Auckland, Yvonne is also conversant in both Cantonese and Mandarin.


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