Vision Impairment and Blindness Incidence Increases In Last Decade With Greatest Increase in Diabetic Retinopathy

NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky with Prevent Blindness America Chief Operating Officer Jeff Todd, J.D.
NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky with Prevent Blindness America Chief Operating Officer Jeff Todd, J.D.

Today, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) hosted Focus on Eye Health: A National Summit, which was co-sponsored by NAEVR, at which it released an update of Vision Problems in the U.S., prepared in conjunction with the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The update, which is based on 2010 census data and focuses on Americans ages 40 and older, found that, overall, the number of those with vision impairment and blindness has increased 23 percent in the past decade, while there was an 89 percent increase in the number of Americans with diabetic retinopathy, to a total of 7.7 million individuals, primarily due to the epidemic of diabetes. The report states that, if current trends continue, 13 million Americans ages 40 and older will have a visual impairment or be blind by year 2050. Other major statistics include:

  • 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older were blind or had a visual impairment in 2010, up from 3.3 million in 2010. Of that 4.2 million number, 1.3 million are blind, up from 1 million in year 2000.

  • 2.7 million Americans ages 40 and older have open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, up 22 percent from year 2000.

  • 2.1 million Americans ages 50 and older have late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a 25 percent increase from year 2000.

Highlights of Vision Problems in the U.S. were published in the June 20 edition of USA Today, which was shared with the Summit attendees, which included more than 200 representatives from the vision community. Speakers included representatives of the NEI, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state health agencies, and academicians.

Summit speaker John Crews, D.P.A., with CDC’s Vision Health Initiative, who spoke about vision and its relation to multiple chronic health conditions

Left to right: NEI representatives included John Prakash, Ph.D. (Associate Director for International Programs), Rick Fisher, Ph.D. (Associate Director for Science Policy and Legislation), Neyal Ammary-Risch (Director, National Eye Health Education Program, NEHEP), and Matt McMahon, Ph.D. (Senior Advisor for Translational Research)

Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D. (University of Alabama at Birmingham), who served as a moderator, with Essilor’s Rod Tahran, O.D.

Left to right: Attendees Lindsay Duvall Clarke, J.D. (Alliance for Aging Research), Narinder Sharma (AMD Alliance International) and Guy Eakin, Ph.D. (American Health Assistance Foundation)