A global survey released by Bausch and Lomb found 70 percent of people worldwide would rather give up 10 years of their life, or sacrifice one of their limbs, than lose their eyesight.
Dr. Cal Roberts, chief medical officer at Bausch and Lomb, said eyes are the one organ in which the health of a person's veins and arteries can be easily seen, allowing eye care professionals to detect signs of more than 150 diseases, such as diabetes, high-cholesterol and hypertension, years before a patient displays other symptoms.
Only 21 percent said they had regular eye exams during the past five years. Eighty-one percent of women said they took steps such as wearing sunglasses to protect their vision, versus 77 percent of men; 82 percent of women said they ate a healthy diet versus 75 percent of men; and 79 percent of women said they refrained from smoking versus 73 percent of men, Roberts said.
Forty-six percent of married people had a comprehensive eye exam in the past year versus 38 percent of singles.
For those who did not have regular eye exams, 65 percent said they had not visited an eye doctor because they did not have any symptoms and 60 percent said because they had clear vision -- dangerous reasoning since many eye diseases occur without any noticeable signs to the patient, Roberts said.