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Facts about Blindness and Visual Impairment

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the following key facts regarding Blindness and Visual Impairment.

  • About 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide; 39 million of them are blind.
  • Throughout the world, most people with visual impairment are age 50 or older.
  • About 90% of the world's visually impaired live in developing countries.
  • The number of people blinded by infectious diseases has been greatly reduced by recent public health efforts, but age-related impairment is increasing.
  • Cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness globally, except in the most developed countries.
  • Correction of refractive errors could give normal vision to more than 12 million children ages 5 to 15.
  • Globally about 80% of all visual impairment is avoidable.


Source:  WHO Fact Sheet #282.

In the United States, EyeCare America issued the following report:

  • By age 65, one in three Americans has some form of vision-impairing eye disease.
  • Of the 119 million people in the United States who are age 40 or over, 3.4 million are visually impaired or blind. This level of blindness and visual impairment costs more than $4 billion annually in benefits and lost income.
  • In California, over 13 million people are age 40 or over, and 356,000 are visually impaired or blind. This represents approximately 10% of all visual impairment and blindness in the United States.
  • People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to become blind than people without diabetes.
  • Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, and the most common cause of blindness among African Americans.
  • Nearly 3 million people have glaucoma, but half do not realize it because there are often no warning symptoms.


Source:  Eye Care America Fact Sheet.