Visual impairment prevalence in US to double by 2050: Researchers

Prevalence in visual impairment (VI) and blindness in the US is expected to double over the next 35 years, a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher has warned, PTI reported.

By 2050, the number of US citizens with a variety of eye disease and impairment issues, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy (DR) and cataracts, would increase dramatically impacting both individuals and society, University of Southern California researchers led by Rohit Varma, interim dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, warned.

The researchers warn that by 2050, 16.4 million US citizens over age 40 would suffer from impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error as against 8.2 million in 2015.

Additionally, over 2 million aged above 40 would be blind and 6.95 million would have VI by 2050 as against 1.02 million and 3.22 million respectively from 2015 census data.

The groups most at risk - non-Hispanic whites, older Americans and women did not change from 2015 data to 2050 projections, the researchers said.

"Increased education and vision screenings are critical for both younger and older Americans, but especially women and minorities over age 40, to prevent vision impairment that can dramatically worsen their quality of life." said Varma.

"This study gives us a GPS for our nation's future eye health," IANS reported quoting Varma.

"The earlier we can diagnose these blinding eye diseases through an annual eye exam and obtain eye care, the more people will have the chance to live longer lives without the physical limitations and emotional challenges of vision loss and blindness," Varma noted.