ast month, the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) commissioned Nanos Research to conduct a poll that would take the pulse of Canadians’ impressions of eye health. We found that 8.3/10 Canadians placed the highest level of priority on eye care, higher than either dental or hearing care.

That isn’t really all that surprising, given that Canadians have previously indicated that vision loss is their most feared disability.

Consider this: 60 percent of Canadians report having a vision issue; for those of us who are more than 50 years old, 100 percent of us have a vision issue. By 2032, vision loss is expected to cost more than $30 billion annually. In fact, vision loss has the highest direct health care costs of any disease category in Canada.  And yet, vision loss can be treated or prevented in 75 percent of cases. That is why each May, as part of Vision Health month activity, the CAO engages in a public awareness campaign to encourage optimal eye health and vision care for all Canadians. As the national voice for optometrists coast-to-coast, we are committed to ensuring that Canadians receive the best standard of eye health and vision care possible.


We know that age is a contributing factor for what we, in the field, refer to as the big four: cataracts, age- related macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy. With the silver tsunami we are facing, I don’t really like our chances if we don’t continue to get the message out. We also know that with children, 80 percent of learning is visual. If our children and grandchildren can’t see properly, their ability to learn is compromised. And there is the grim reality that some eye diseases have no symptoms, putting at potential risk those Canadians who believe that because they can see okay, their eye health is just fine.

The facts aren’t pretty, but after two decades of sharing them, over and over, we thought it was time to do something different. This year, rather than just telling Canadians about eye health, our campaign asks them to take some ownership for it. Delivered via social media, the campaign depicts various everyday scenarios – taking the dog’s medication because you can’t read the label; not getting to where you want to go because you can’t read the directions; being unaware that you have glaucoma - with a call to “Get EyeWise”.

“Get EyeWise” begins with an appointment with an optometrist. It is a crucial first step to ensure that eye health is what it should be, not just that vision is 20/20.  A comprehensive eye exam doesn’t just stop at the eye; through it, an optometrist may also detect other serious health conditions, including brain tumours, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, as well as thyroid or liver disease. Armed with information from an optometrist, Canadians can begin making lifestyle decisions that can help improve their vision health. At CAO, that is a picture we definitely want to see developed!

So save your sight – see an optometrist!