The team at Eyesthetica recently read a startling report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to the NIH, Americans’ eye health is expected to steadily decline over the next 35 years, and a record number of people will suffer from visual impairment and blindness in 2050. Here, the team at Eyesthetica explains what you need to know about the NIH’s report and its claims.

Visual Impairment and Blindness to Double by 2050

The NIH’s report, which was based on census data and studies funded by the National Eye Institute, projects the rate of blindness and visual impairment will double to 8 million by 2050. The number of visually impaired Americans will increase by 20 percent every 10 years.

These figures do not include visual impairments like nearsightedness and farsightedness that are due to refractive errors and can be corrected with glasses or contacts — the NIH estimates 16 million additional cases.

The population most likely to be affected is those 80 years or older because age is a key risk factor for diseases that threaten vision, like macular degeneration and cataracts. White women are particularly at risk for vision loss and blindness.

In 2015, 1 million Americans were considered legally blind with 20/200 vision. More than 3 million were considered visually impaired with 20/40 vision or worse, and an additional 8.2 million had visual problems stemming from a refractive error (e.g., nearsightedness, farsightedness).

The research team pulled data from six large studies and used information from the 2014 census, as well as population growth projections, to arrive at their ominous findings.

What This Study Means For You

The NIH says they hope these findings motivate people to be proactive about their visual health. Part of a healthy vision routine is seeing an eye doctor regularly for examinations. During an exam, doctors use special technology to take a close look at the eyes and identify problems or signs of disease. Catching problems in their early stages and treating them quickly can delay or prevent vision loss.

The Eyesthetica doctors are board-certified Los Angeles area ophthalmologists with special training in oculofacial plastic and cosmetic surgery. Although we focus on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery for the eyelids, orbit, tear system, and surrounding face, we are deeply invested in our patients’ visual health. If you have a question for our team, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (213) 234-1000.