In the next 30 years, the blind and low vision population is expected to double amongst people 45 and older, according to new research from Johns Hopkins University. Researchers hope this new data will influence lawmakers to meet the growing demand for low vision services in the U.S. The new study was published last quarter in JAMA Ophthalmology.
Data about the low vision and blind population haven’t been recorded in nearly 20 years. The last United States Census data was collected in 2000. This new study, called Estimates of Incidence and Prevalence of Visual Impairment, Low Vision, and Blindness in the United States, examined findings from 6,016 participants who participated in the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. However, researchers did not account for information on any visual field testing or from institutionalized individuals.
Lead author of the study, Tiffany Chan, OD, explained, “These updated results may help policymakers plan for the future and decide how to allocate resources to help people with loss of vision, an often life-changing issue. We expect a greater need for services for those patients with low vision as the aging population increases over the next several decades."
Out of the 6,016 people surveyed, 28.4% were younger than 18, 39.1% were 18 to 44 years old and 32.3% were 45 or older. The study looked at the prevalence and incident rates of low vision and blindness in the U.S., meaning the number of current cases and the number of cases that will develop over time. In the 45 and older age group, the estimated prevalence of best-corrected visual acuity less than 20/40 is expected to increase from 3,894,406 in 2017 to 7,594,797 in 2050. Meanwhile, the incidence of best-corrected visual acuity less than 20/40 in this age group is expected to increase from 481,970 new cases in 2017 to 1,006,711 in 2050. The number of cases of legal blindness will increase from 134,002 in 2017 to 279,900 in 2050.
Low vision and blindness is often a life-changing impairment, with the potential to interfere with everyday activities. Researchers hope this study will ignite change for people who need vision services.
Until then, the blind and low vision community can confidently depend on MaxiAids for all of their vision-based needs. An industry-leading product provider for the blind and visually impaired, MaxiAids will continue to serve this community and offer independence-enabling products and services.