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Prevalence of Visual Acuity Loss or Blindness in the U.S.

The Prevalence of Visual Acuity Loss or Blindness in the United States study provides analysis of data by age, sex, race and ethnicity, institutionalized, not institutionalized, and geographic region. This study has shown substantially more people with visual acuity loss and blindness than previously published.

Read the Prevalence of Visual Acuity Loss or Blindness Report 

Read the Prevalence of Visual Acuity Loss or Blindness Press Release

The estimated number of cases of visual acuity loss or blindness is more than 68% higher than the previous estimate.

The estimated number of cases of visual acuity loss or blindness is more than 68% higher than the previous estimate created by the 2012 Vision Problems in the US Study. This increased number is due to the inclusion of people younger than 40 years old, adults in group quarters, such as nursing homes or jails, and the growth in the number of older Americans.

Researchers found more than 7 million people are living with uncorrectable vision loss, including more than 1 million Americans who are living with blindness.

Blindness is defined as “a subset of the visual acuity loss group whose vision with any correction is 20/200 or worse in the better-seeing eye.”

Visual acuity loss is defined as the best corrected visual acuity of 20/40 or worse in the better-seeing eye.

20% of all individuals age 85 and older in the U.S. experience permanent vision loss
In the United States, 20% of all people over the age of 85 experience permanent vision loss.
More females than males experience permanent vision loss.
More females than males experience permanent vision loss. Three females for every two males experience visual acuity loss or blindness.
There is a higher risk of visual acuity loss among Hispanic and Black individuals than among Whites
There is a higher risk of visual acuity loss among Hispanic and Black individuals than among whites.
1.6 million people under age 40 with vision loss.
More than 1.6 million people with uncorrectable visual acuity loss and 141,000 persons with blindness are under the age of 40. Those under 40 make up 13% of all persons that are blind. This is significant since this is the first national estimate of permanent visual acuity loss for people younger than 40.
Prevalence of visual acuity loss and blindness varies widely by state.
The prevalence of visual acuity loss and blindness varies widely by states, nearly 4 out of every 100 persons in West Virginia experience permanent vision loss or blindness compared to 1.5 of every 100 persons in Maine.
The variance of visual acuity loss and blindness between states may possibly be largely due to preventable issues
The variance of visual acuity loss and blindness between states may possibly be largely due to preventable issues, such as smoking, sun exposure, chronic disease, access to vision and health care, social determinants of health, and lack of policies to promote early detection of vision disorders.

“Prevalence of Visual Acuity Loss or Blindness in the US,” was authored by researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, NORC at the University of Chicago, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vision Health Initiative, with support from Prevent Blindness.

This study was supported by funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vision Health Initiative (cooperative agreement U01DP006074, “Establish a Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System for the Nation”)

Source:  Flaxman A, Wittenborn J, Robalik T, et al. Prevalence of Vision Loss or Blindness in the US. JAMA Ophthalmology. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2021.0527. Published online May 13, 2021

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The estimated number of cases of visual acuity loss or blindness is more than 68% higher than the previous estimate

20% of all individuals age 85 and older in the U.S. experience permanent vision loss.

More females than males experience permanent vision loss.

There is a higher risk of visual acuity loss among Hispanic and Black individuals than among Whites.

More than 1.6 million people with visual acuity loss are under the age of 40.

The Prevalence of visual acuity and blindness varies widely by states.

Much vision loss may be due to preventable causes

Prevalence of Visual Acuity Loss and Blindness in the U.S.