New CNIB Survey Finds Many Canadians Less Than Well-Informed About Family History of Glaucoma

Third Annual Eye Remember Photo Contest Launches During World Glaucoma Week

Toronto, Ontario – March 17, 2011 –

According to a new CNIB survey released this week for World Glaucoma Week (March 7-13), few Canadians are as informed as they need to be about their family history of glaucoma, a serious and incurable eye condition that affects 250,000 Canadians.Despite the fact that glaucoma tends to run in families, the survey found that almost half of Canadians (47 per cent) do not feel well-informed about their family history of the disease. In fact, only one-third of Canadians (33 per cent) have spoken to their immediate families to learn whether glaucoma could be a hereditary concern.

But astonishingly, among the group that reported having had that conversation, almost half (47 per cent) learned that glaucoma was in the family, indicating they could be at an elevated risk.

“People forget that learning about your family history of glaucoma is an important step to protecting your eyesight. Family history, particularly having a parent or sibling with the disease, is considered one of the primary risk factors of glaucoma,” said Dr. Keith Gordon, Vice-President of Research and Service Quality, CNIB.

The survey also revealed that most Canadians (71 per cent) are unaware that you could have glaucoma, but still be able to see perfectly well.

Eye Remember

To educate Canadians about the importance of detecting glaucoma early, CNIB has launched its third annual awareness campaign and photo contest called “Eye Remember.” From March 8 to May 18, Canadians can visit to get the facts on glaucoma and upload a photograph that represents a cherished memory from their past – whether it’s a summer with family at the cottage, a shot from your honeymoon, or an old black and white picture from grandma’s albums – along with a brief description of why it is close to their heart and reminds them to be proactive about their vision health.

All uploaded photos will be entered for a chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip for two to one of four popular Canadian destinations, including Banff (Alberta), Quebec City (Quebec), Niagara Falls (Ontario) and the Okanagan Valley (British Columbia).

Glaucoma: The “silent thief”

Caused by damage to the optic nerve, glaucoma usually progresses slowly and painlessly; therefore it’s possible to have glaucoma without noticing any symptoms or major changes to your eyesight. In fact, 125,000 Canadians are living with glaucoma today and don’t know it.

“Because glaucoma has no symptoms, it can only be picked up by regular eye examinations with an eye doctor,” said Dr. Neeru Gupta, Professor, Dorothy Pitts Chair of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, and Director of the Glaucoma Unit at St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto. “If someone in your family has glaucoma, you are at a much higher risk for the disease. Get your eye pressure and optic nerves checked for glaucoma. Early treatment is a powerful way to prevent vision loss.”

In addition to family history, risk factors for glaucoma include having elevated eye pressure, being over the age of 40, being of African, Asian or Inuit descent and having myopia.

Over time, glaucoma may cause loss of peripheral (side) vision, followed by “tunnel” vision or complete vision loss. There is no cure for glaucoma and, once you begin to lose your vision, it can’t be restored. Fortunately, vision loss from glaucoma can be controlled if detected early.

To learn more about glaucoma, visit or take CNIB’s online Glaucoma Challenge.

About CNIB

CNIB provides community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. With 900 employees and 10,000 volunteers working out of offices across the country, CNIB serves thousands of Canadians of all ages. For more information, visit or call 1-800-563-2642.

About the survey

This survey was conducted as part of CNIB’s Eye Remember campaign in order to determine how much Canadians know about glaucoma and its risk factors. A random sample of 1,003 Canadians aged 18 and older answered an online survey. Survey results from a sample of Canadians of this size can be considered accurate to +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The survey was undertaken by CNIB, with data collection by Ipsos Public Affairs. Eye Remember is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Pfizer Canada Inc.

For more information, please contact

To speak to an ophthalmologist, a CNIB representative or a
person with glaucoma in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto,
Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax, contact: Marsha Knoll
Edelman (Toronto)
Marie-Eve Genereux
Edelman (Montreal)
514-844-6665 ext. 233
Anne-Marie Monroe
416-486-2500 ext. 8355

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