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Forty Percent of Americans Who Use Glasses Would Consider Laser Eye Surgery

Forty Percent of Americans Who Use Glasses Would Consider Laser Eye Surgery

Interest highest among younger people and those who currently wear contact lenses

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Over four out of ten Americans who wear glasses or contacts would consider having laser eye surgery to correct their vision problems at some point in the future, and about ten percent of current glasses or contact wearers are considering it within the next year or two. Those who would not consider it are most likely to cite a concern that it might damage their eyes as their reason, although cost is apparently also an issue. Almost six out of ten glasses and contact wearers say they would be more likely to consider the procedure if it were covered by their health insurance.

Seven out of Ten Americans Wear Some Type of Corrective Lenses
The vision correction market in the U.S. today is enormous. About seven out of ten Americans 18 years of age and older wear some type of corrective lens, a figure that jumps to 90% and higher among those 50 and older. The breakdown of the U.S. adult population is as follows:

Current Use of Glasses and Contacts Among the 18+ American Population
Don't need any type of corrective lens 29%
Primarily wear glasses 57%
Primarily wear contact lenses 9%
Wear glasses and contacts about equally 4%
Other/No response 1%

There are interesting variations in the use of corrective lenses across subgroups of the American population:

  • Just a bare majority, 54%, of 18- to 29-year-olds wear glasses or contacts, a figure that jumps to 90% and higher after age 49
  • Highly educated Americans are more likely to wear corrective lenses than are those who are less well educated: 82% of those with postgraduate degrees need corrective lenses, compared to 68% of those with only a high school education or less
  • Liberals are less likely to wear corrective lenses than are conservatives, by a 65% to 75% margin
The use of contact lenses is strongly skewed toward the young: about 42% of 18- to 29-year-olds who need corrective lenses opt for contacts, a figure that drops to 27% of those aged 30-49, and to less than 10% among those 50 and older.

Forty-Three Percent of Those Who Currently Wear Glasses or Contacts Would Consider Laser Eye Surgery
The traditional market for glasses and contacts has in recent years been invaded by ophthalmologists who promise to vanquish the need for corrective lenses by virtue of new laser eye surgery techniques that reshape the cornea and thus correct vision on a permanent basis. Some argue that the new procedures will -- at some point in the future -- all but wipe out the need for the traditional vision correction methods of glasses and contact lenses.

A Gallup poll conducted in mid-February suggests that there is a highly significant pent-up demand for such services. Over half of those who wear corrective lenses say they have followed the news of the laser surgery procedures at least somewhat closely. The percentage who have been following the laser eye surgery news jumps to about three-quarters of Americans who currently wear contacts, most probably because these individuals -- having already eschewed traditional glasses for concealed contact lenses -- are most motivated to explore avenues outside of traditional methods to correct their vision.

Those who wear glasses or contacts were given three choices to describe their possible future behavior regarding the laser procedure, with the following results:

Which of the following best describes your views on the new laser eye surgery?
Base: Those who currently wear glasses or contacts (71% of the adult population)
Might consider having it done within the next year or two 11%
Might consider having it done at some point in the future, but not in the next year or two 32
Would not consider having it done at all 53
Have already had it done 3

Just over four out of ten Americans who currently wear glasses or contacts would at least consider the procedure at some point in the future, and about one out of ten say they might consider it within the next year or two.

(About 3% of those interviewed in the survey say they have already had the procedure. The percentage of those who say that they have already had it done is highest among those 65 and older, most probably because these older Americans are most likely to have had cataract surgery and other more traditional medical procedures commonly performed in the later years of life.)

Interest Highest Among Those 30-49 and Those Who Wear Contacts
The highest interest in the laser vision correction procedures is among Americans who are between 30 and 49 years of age, about six out of ten of whom say they might be interested. Interest falls off after age 50 and is quite low among Americans 65 and older.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Americans who wear contacts are significantly more likely to say they would consider the new procedure than are those who don't wear contacts:

Which of the following best describes your views on the new laser eye surgery?
Base: Those who currently wear glasses or contacts (71% of the adult population)
  Those who primarily wear glasses now Those who primarily wear contacts now
  (57% of the U.S. adult population) (9% of the U.S. adult population)
Might consider having it done within the next year or two 10% 17%
Might consider having it done at some point in the future, but not in the next year or two 29 48
Would not consider having it done at all 57 35
Have already had it done 3 --

Those who say they wouldnotconsider having the laser eye surgery procedure were asked to agree or disagree with three reasons that might explain their reluctance, with the following results:

  • 53% say they worry that it might do damage to their eyes
  • 41% say they simply haven't thought about it
  • 39% say it is too expensive
Many health insurance policies currently do not pay for the laser eye surgery procedures, a fact that is apparently holding back demand. Almost six out of ten Americans who wear corrective lenses now say they would be more likely to consider the procedure if it were covered by their health insurance.

Survey Methods
The results reported here are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,050 adults, 18 years and older, conducted February 14-15, 2000. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Gallup

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/3115/forty-percent-americans-who-use-glasses-would-consider-laser-eye-surgery.aspx
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