Blindness and vision impairment affects an estimated 338 million people worldwide. According to a new pre-print study accepted by The Lancet, the number may reach 900 million people by the year 2050.
Vision loss is a global problem. According to recent research led by Rupert Bourne, Professor of Ophthalmology at Anglia Ruskin University:
- 8 million people have a mild vision impairment
- 1 million people have a major vision impairment
- 3 million people are blind
Bourne said although blindness among people age 50 and older has reduced by almost 30 percent in the past 30 years, the number of people who are blind has increased by 50 percent because of population growth.
"It is encouraging that age-adjusted prevalence of blindness has reduced over the past three decades, yet due to population growth, progress is not keeping pace with needs," said Bourne. "We face enormous challenges in avoiding vision impairment as the global population grows and ages" (Medical Xpress).
What Causes Vision Impairment?
Three common causes of vision impairment are cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss among people older than 55. In the U.S., cataracts affect about 20.5 million people. Cataract-related vision loss can be reversed through cataract surgery, an incredibly safe and simple procedure.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness and is caused by optic nerve damage. Vision loss due to glaucoma is irreversible, so it is imperative to have routine glaucoma screenings. Even though there is no cure for glaucoma, there are many effective therapies and treatments.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects about five percent of Americans 65 years of age or older. AMD affects central vision, which is necessary for activities like reading and driving. Early detection of AMD is crucial to slowing vision loss. There are two types of AMD: wet AMD and dry AMD. There is no cure for dry AMD but vitamin supplements can slow the progression. There are several therapies for wet AMD, and again, these don't cure the disease but they can slow AMD's progression.
Find a Local Ophthalmologist
The best way to preserve your vision and prevent vision impairment is to schedule annual comprehensive eye exams for the entire family. Eye exams offer more than just an evaluation of your vision. They offer a window into your overall health.
Our board-certified ophthalmologists are accepting new patients and are dedicated to your eye health. At a comprehensive eye exam, your ophthalmologist will make sure your prescription is current and screen you for degenerative eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
If you are not under the care of a board-certified physician, you can access a list of doctors in your area and find an ophthalmologist near you.