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Turning Back the Clock on Vision
"Alcon Eye On Cataract Survey" reveals new global perceptions on aging, vision loss and restoration and cataract surgery treatment options.

Our sight connects us to the joy of the world around us. We catch a glimpse of a loved one’s smile. We engage fully in our favorite activities. We witness life in its total color. The ability to see with clarity and brilliance is truly a gift, especially as we age.

But the reality is: Much of the world’s aging population has a complex—and sometimes contentious and confusing—relationship with their own vision.

For many, declining vision is often the first sign of “I am getting old.” Seemingly, all of a sudden, we’re squinting at our books and struggling to make out images in the distance. These are the normal signs of aging. But in older age, these vision issues may compound and escalate into more serious conditions such as cataracts, which is when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy due to protein clumping together, scattering the light landing on the retina and causing visual impairment. Cataracts can interfere with important day-to-day activities—reading, working, driving, enjoying hobbies and more. And, if left untreated, they can lead to total blindness.1

An Aging Global Population, and the Problems It Poses

The world’s population is aging rapidly. According to the World Health Organization, in 2020, the number of people aged 60 years and older outnumbered children younger than 5 years.2 By 2050, people over 60 will account for nearly 22% of the global population.2 As the world’s population becomes increasingly older on average, vision problems become a collective challenge unlike ever before.

At Alcon, because we believe everyone has the right to healthy and brilliant vision, we wanted to understand the realities of and perceptions around declining vision—particularly those caused by cataracts. So, we created the Alcon Eye On Cataract Survey, which looked at populations across five continents and 10 countries. The survey not only investigated older peoples’ relationships toward their vision as they aged but also examined their knowledge and perception of vision-restoring procedures like cataract surgery.3

The data was conclusive: Vision is critically intertwined with aging, and we have serious concerns about maintaining healthy vision as we grow old.3 The good news? Many people are willing to educate themselves and learn more about taking steps toward better vision.

Healthier Vision, Improved Outlook on Life

The Alcon Eye On Cataract Survey reveals that half (50%) of the global population feels positively about aging. For those cataract patients that receive an IOL, including a presbyopia-correcting intraocular lens (PC-IOL), that number is a higher percent.3

No wonder. Vision ranks in the top three most important healthy aging and quality of life factors for respondents, even for those who haven’t yet been diagnosed with a vision condition. It’s tied with or exceeds “memory” and “mobility” as the top aspect of aging in every market we surveyed.3

While some people may simply accept the decline of their vision to be an inevitable part of the aging process, many are proactively aware that they could be doing more to learn how to improve and protect their vision.

One critical knowledge gap is around cataract surgery, including intraocular lens (IOL) options, procedure logistics and recovery time. Our survey illuminated the need for better dialogue and education around the diagnosis and surgical procedure, a gap that Eye Care Professionals (ECPs) are prepared to fill, due in part to support from Alcon.3 Our Alcon Experience Centers, accessible at in-person locations across the globe and digitally via an app launched earlier this year, can offer ECPs tools to better engage with and educate their patients.

Busting the Cataract Removal Myths

Cataract removal is one of the most common surgical procures, with nearly 30 million cataract surgeries completed every year.1,4 However, respondents from the survey stated they agree that doubts remain around its efficacy and worthwhileness.3

Only 51% of the global population over 50 understand they can choose from several different types of IOLs to fit their unique needs. Meanwhile, one in four people did not know that cataract surgery has a short recovery time.3

But those who do chose to undergo cataract removal report a host of benefits post-surgery. In fact, 74% of respondents feel their quality of life improved after receiving cataract surgery, with positive sentiment among PC-IOL recipients at 81%.3

Shed the Glasses and Turn Back the Clock

Additionally, almost half of the survey respondents report having the vision of someone younger. Glasses dependence among post-surgery patients also fell from 81% (pre-surgery) to 43%, and many patients report excitement to get back to everyday activities, including reading, driving and using electronic devices more regularly—activities they may have had to forego prior to surgery.3

The survey also found that 84% of the global population aged 50+ currently wear and rely on glasses. With 69% saying they would feel liberated without them, opportunity exists to demonstrate how cataract surgery can help turn back the clock.3

People are used to losing abilities as they age; however, cataract surgery now offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help regain vision and improve their quality of life.3

Alcon Eye On Cataract Survey was conducted between March and April 2023 among 7,331 people across Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, South Korea and the United States. 1,826 of the respondents were pre- and post-cataract surgery patients aged 50+ who had received their diagnosis within the last five years, as well as 5,005 people aged 50+ who had not been diagnosed with cataract(s). The pre- and post-surgery population was made up of both monofocal and multifocal intraocular lens recipients.3

For more information on cataracts and cataract surgery, patients and caregivers can visit www.myalcon.com/cataracts.

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  1. Miljanovic B, Dana R, Sullivan DA, Schaumberg DA (2007) Impact of dry eye syndrome on vision-related quality of life. Am J Ophthalmol 143 (3): 409-415.Ageing and health.
  2. World Health Organization. October 1, 2022. Accessed May 12, 2023. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health
  3. 2023 Alcon Cataract Survey
  4. Market Scope Quarterly Report