Sight most valued sense for UK adults

A survey of 250 adults by City, University of London researchers ranked sight as the group’s most valued sense followed by hearing

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New research by City, University of London scientists has highlighted the importance that UK adults place on vision.

A survey involving 250 people found that respondents ranked sight as the most valuable sense, followed by hearing, balance, touch, taste, smell, pain and temperature.

The research, which was published in JAMA Ophthalmology, involved asking study respondents to choose between 10 years without sight and a varying time span living with ‘perfect’ health.

On average, those surveyed said they would prefer 4.6 years of perfect health to a decade with complete sight loss.

When it came to hearing loss, survey participants chose 6.8 years of life with perfect health to a decade without hearing.

Professor David Crabb, from City, University of London, emphasised the importance of understanding the perceptions and fears of patients and the public when it comes to sensory loss.

“This should inform how health professionals triage and support them when loss occurs. While sensory loss can be devastating, it’s important to educate the public on how they might cope and adapt,” he shared.

Henry Leonard, head of clinical and regulatory at the AOP, highlighted that sight is consistently recognised as the sense that people fear losing the most. 

“This new research, alongside other studies, serves to highlight the value that we all place on our vision and what we imagine the life-restricting impact of sight loss to be. Despite this, the AOP’s own research has shown a clear disparity between this worth and the steps people take to protect their sight – with a fifth of the public admitting they haven’t had a sight test in the last two years,” he said.

“Sight tests are crucial in detecting early signs of eye disease, as well as signs of other health problems. At least 50% of sight loss is avoidable, that’s why it’s vital for the public to understand the importance of regular visits to the optometrist,” Mr Leonard shared.

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