WATERLOO, Ont. (Tuesday, May 8, 2012) - A study released today by CNIB and the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry as part of Vision Health Month indicates that one in seven Canadian adults may be living with some form of vision loss, much of which could be corrected. Meanwhile, other results from the study indicate that more than one-third of Canadians over age 40 could actually have eye disease, despite having normal vision.

“The results are concerning,” said Dr. Barbara Robinson, an optometrist and epidemiologist at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and the study’s principal investigator. “Firstly, many people aren’t seeing as well as they could be due to uncorrected refractive error. In fact, 70 per cent of study participants who had reduced vision could correct the problem by simply wearing the right glasses or contact lenses.”

Refractive error is a condition that occurs when the eye’s focusing system isn’t working properly, resulting in blurry vision. Refractive errors are usually correctible with glasses or contact lenses.

“More worrisome, however, is the fact that many serious eye diseases, such as glaucoma, have no symptoms in the early stages. So if people aren’t getting their eyes examined, they probably aren’t getting early treatment that could potentially save their sight,” said Robinson.

“Vision loss can seriously affect quality of life,” commented Professor Keith Gordon, vice-president, research of CNIB. “People with vision loss are more likely to fall, have a higher risk of fractures and other injuries and they may be more likely to limit or stop driving. Vision loss is also an independent risk factor for increased mortality in older persons.”

The Canadian Uncorrected Refractive Error Study (CURES) is the first population-based estimate of the prevalence of vision loss and blindness in Canada. A group of 768 Brantford, Ontario residents between the ages of 39 and 94 attended a vision screening by an eye doctor at the local CNIB office. The study found that participants who had a longer time lapse since their last eye exam were more likely to have vision loss.

“This study really drives home the importance of getting regular eye exams,” said Dr. Lillian Linton, president of the Canadian Association of Optometrists. “We know that 75 per cent of vision loss can be prevented or treated. A complete eye exam from a doctor of optometry can detect both sight loss due to uncorrected refractive error and eye diseases that can lead to permanent blindness.”

About CNIB

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing 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. To learn more, visit cnib.ca or call the toll-free CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642. visionhealthmonth.cnib.ca.

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