Many Americans consider eyesight loss as the worst ailment that could befall them when compared to other conditions, a new multi-ethnic survey has revealed.

In fact, many study respondents believe that vision loss or blindness is just as bad as loss of limb, hearing, speech or memory, the report said.

Because of the findings, researchers of the survey advocate for higher support for current research on eye and vision health.

Consistent Findings Among Various Ethnic Groups

The nationwide survey was commissioned by a non-profit health organization called Research!America.

Researchers discovered that 88 percent of more than 2,000 survey participants believed that good eyesight is vital to overall health and well-being.

About 47 percent of the respondents reported that losing their eyesight would have the biggest impact on their daily lives.

Overall, survey respondents ranked vision loss as equal to or worse than memory loss, hearing loss, speech loss, or loss of limb.

Some of the main concerns associated with blindness or vision impairment were the quality of life and the loss of independence.

Approximately two-thirds of the study participants say they wore glasses.

When it comes to awareness of eye diseases, 66 percent were informed about cataracts; 63 percent knew something about glaucoma; 50 percent were aware of macular degeneration; and only 37 percent had awareness on diabetic retinopathy.

Additionally, 58 percent and 76 percent — respectively— knew that family history and too much sunlight were possible risk factors for loss of eyesight. About 50 percent knew that smoking can put a person's eyesight at risk of damage.

On the other hand, one-quarter of the survey participants did not know any eye conditions.

Why The Findings Are Important

As the total population and average life expectancy on Earth continue to increase, so has the prevalence of blindness and impaired vision.

Authors of the new report say that understanding the importance of eye health to populations across racial and ethnic groups may help direct strategies to preserve eyesight among Americans. Doing so may also help inform policymakers to make eye research one of the health priorities in the country.

Dr. Adrienne Scott, lead author of the report and an ophthalmology professor, says the findings of the survey emphasize the fact that good vision is one of the keys to overall sense of well-being.

Researchers add that the consistency of the findings among various racial and ethnic groups also underline the importance of educating the public about eye health and improving support on eye research.

Details of the new survey are published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

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