German researchers explore gaps in public awareness of eye conditions

A survey of more than 1000 members of the public examined their knowledge of age-related ocular pathology

The hands of an older person rest on the pages of a book that is open on their lap

German researchers have reported the results of a survey of more than 1000 people that explored their knowledge of age-related eye conditions.

Writing in BMC Public Health, scientists identified “considerable” knowledge gaps among the German population when it comes to eye health.

Participants were presented with 16 statements about cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease, and asked whether those statements were true or false.

Participants correctly responded to a median of nine out of the 16 statements. They were less likely to correctly identify a statement as true or false when it related to AMD, and more likely to identify a statement as true or false when it related to cataracts.

“Our study confirms findings from other countries which demonstrated that AMD-related knowledge among the general population seems to be particularly poor, despite AMD being the most common cause of blindness and severe visual loss in all high-income countries,” the study authors shared.

Fewer than one in five survey participants knew common modifiable risk factors of AMD.

More than a third of survey participants lacked knowledge about eye screening as an important prevention strategy for diabetic retinopathy.

The same proportion of respondents did not know that increased intraocular pressure was a risk factor for glaucoma.

One in four survey participants knew that family history increased the risk of developing glaucoma.

“This is particularly concerning since glaucoma is a relatively common condition and late presentation of glaucoma patients is associated with a poor prognosis,” the researchers highlighted.

The study authors concluded: “The knowledge of cataract, glaucoma, AMD and diabetic eye disease in Germany is relatively poor and health campaigns are required to educate the general public about eye health, most urgently AMD. Considering the expected increase in age-related eye disorders with asymptomatic early stages, education about risk factors and preventive measures merits a special focus.”