Millions of Americans Over 40 Suffer from Vision Impairment, According to National Academies Report

vision impairment

Millions of Americans over the age of 40 have vision problems according to the latest report issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The findings of the report call for greater efforts to combat age-related eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Vision health is a big concern for the aging population and if eyesight problems are not taken care of, they can result in total blindness.

The report suggests that millions of Americans’ eyesight problems are going undetected and unfortunately, there isn’t any reliable data available on the total number of people affected by vision impairment. One model has estimated that over 142 million Americans over the age of 40 have vision problems.

Uncorrectable vision impairment is on the rise and expected to double by the year 2050 largely due to the aging population. Unless the necessary steps are taken now to correct such problems there will be a large influx in age-related eye diseases.

The committee responsible for the study and report calls for a population-health approach which promotes vision and eye health outside of the clinical environment. This includes acknowledging environmental and social determinants of health, including occupational safety and health literacy in general. Preventing vision-threatening occurrences such as injuries, infections, and underlying chronic diseases such as diabetes can work to reduce the number of cases in the future.

Dr. Steven Teutsch, chair of the committee and former chief science officer of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said, “For far too long, eye health has received inadequate public health attention despite good vision being essential to most people’s overall health and well-being. We need a comprehensive approach to eye health that emphasizes education and prevention, equitable and easily accessible care, and coordination in treating and managing chronic eye conditions and vision impairment in ways that help people to live full, productive lives.”

The panel of experts suggests a nationwide call to action in order to reduce vision impairment along with recommending that the CDC develop a comprehensive surveillance system for eye and vision health.


“Up to 16 Million Americans Have Uncorrected Vision Impairment; Report Calls for Transformation in Population Health Efforts to Eliminate Correctable and Avoidable Vision Impairments by 2030,” The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine,, last accessed September 16, 2016.