Epidemiological factors associated with health knowledge of three common eye diseases: A community-based pilot survey in Hong Kong

SAGE Open Med. 2020 Jul 20;8:2050312120943044. doi: 10.1177/2050312120943044. eCollection 2020.


Objectives: To assess the proportions of respondents in the general community having heard or awareness, and their knowledge level, of three common eye diseases: age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and glaucoma. We also attempted to assess for risk factors that may be associated with any variations, which will help identify the areas of inadequate knowledge and demographics of potential audiences for focused health education.

Methods: We conducted a community-based pilot survey for the residents from a southern suburb of Hong Kong in early 2016, by inviting all aged 50 or above to complete a standardized questionnaire in the local community hall.

Results: Most of the 222 respondents have heard, or awareness, of cataract (92.79% or 81.98%, respectively), followed by glaucoma (86.94% or 52.70%, respectively), and age-related macular degeneration (51.35% or 29.28%, respectively). The results of Cronbach's alpha (α > 0.7) and Spearman's correlation coefficient (p < 0.01) suggested that the internal consistency, convergent and discriminant validities of the questionnaire were acceptable for the study population. Compared to a previous Hong Kong survey in 2002, the proportions of having heard of the three eye diseases were greater, but the overall knowledge remained limited. From a maximum knowledge score of 29, the median scores for age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and glaucoma were 9, 13, and 14, respectively. Except for the treatment of cataract, the knowledge level in most areas was low. Sociodemographic factors and medical history, rather than behavioral factors, were more likely to be associated with having a higher knowledge level. Subjects with family or friends with a history of glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration were more aware and knowledgeable, but not for subjects who were current and past smokers or alcohol drinkers. For age-related macular degeneration, gender modified the effect between age and knowledge level, while age was a confounder of having medical history, and having heard or awareness, of the disease.

Conclusion: Despite a larger proportion of the community having heard or awareness since 15 years ago, much effort remains for improving health knowledge of these three eye diseases in Hong Kong. We recommend targeting respondents with higher lifestyle risks, such as current and past smokers or alcohol drinkers, as a focused audience, and utilizing family members, relatives, or friends as another way of distributing health information.

Keywords: Awareness; Hong Kong; age-related macular degeneration; cataract; glaucoma; knowledge.