According to recent research from John’s Hopkins University, the outlook on America’s vision is not so bright. The study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, suggests that incidence and prevalence of low vision and blindness among Americans 45 years of age and older will double between now and 2050.
Low vision is visual impairment that is not correctable with standard refraction but that can often be managed with surgery or medications. Conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration are a few causes of low vision.
The study reviewed data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 6,016 participants, ranging in age from 18 to 45, to estimate prevalence rates of health conditions among age groups.
Authors of the study are concerned that policymakers are unaware of the debilitating toll that vision challenges will have on our nation’s elderly. This data will be instrumental in helping legislators make future decisions. “Low vision and blindness affect a substantial portion of the older population in the United States,” authors concluded. “Estimates of the prevalence and annual incidence of visual impairment assist policy planners in allocating and developing resources for this life-changing loss of function.”
Another implication of this study is that there will be an increased need for doctors and rehabilitation centers that are trained and equipped to treat high volumes of low-vision patients.
Although research studies contain helpful information to make predictions about the future, they are not indicators of imminent statistics. Predictions and trends can change when human behavior is modified. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 11 million Americans over the age of 12 need vision correction. We all share the responsibility to encourage loved ones and friends to have regular comprehensive eye exams. We could dramatically decrease the incidence of low vision and blindness by
identifying and treating conditions like glaucoma and diabetic eye disease prior to the point at which they cause permanent vision loss.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States. In honor of this month, please share this message with someone who needs to hear it.
Comprehensive eye exams detect disease early and preserve vision. Make an appointment with an ophthalmologist today.