Have you ever thought about which of your senses you’d hate to lose the most? A recent online survey in the UK found that most people would choose sight as their most valued sense.

Participants were first asked to rank the 5 traditional senses, sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste, plus 3 other senses, balance, temperature, and pain, in order of most valuable to least valuable.

Next, the fear of losing sight and hearing was investigated using a time trade-off exercise. Participants chose between 10 years without sight/hearing vs varying amounts of perfect health, from 0-10 years.

Of 250 participants, 220 participants (88%!) ranked sight as their most valuable sense. Hearing ranked second and balance ranked third. All three were ranked above the traditional senses of touch, taste, and smell.

The time tradeoff exercise indicated that participants preferred 4.6 years of perfect health over 10 years without sight and 6.8 years of perfect health over 10 years without hearing. In other words, participants would rather live only 4.6 healthy years versus 10 years living with blindness.

So, if you ever wondered how important your role as an eye care professional is, this survey speaks volumes!

The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.