New Vision Problems in the U.S. Report

New Report from Prevent Blindness America Shows Sharp Increase in Eye Disease Prevalence in California

Vision Problems in the U.S. Data Includes a 51 Percent Spike in

Diabetic Retinopathy in California Over Last Decade

San Francisco, CA (June 20, 2012) – More adult Americans are facing the reality of eye disease than ever before.  According to the 2012 update of the “Vision Problems in the U.S.” report, a study released today by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute, the number of those ages 40 and older with vision impairment and blindness has increased 23 percent since the year 2000.  The study, conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, provides prevalence rates and estimates cases of age-related eye conditions.  A full version of the study is available at

In addition, a preliminary update to the 2007 Prevent Blindness America “Economic Impact of Vision Problems” report shows a $1 billion increase in costs of excess medical care expenditures, informal care and health-related quality of life related to visual impairment and blindness.  Further cost information is being developed and a full updated report on the economic impact of vision problems will be available at a later date.

Overviews of both reports will be presented today at the Prevent Blindness America “Focus on Eye Health Summit” in Washington, DC.  The Summit will also feature a number of other key public health updates and presentations from national leaders, including reports on eye health surveillance efforts and NEI planning activities for vision research.

Statistics from the 2012 Vision Problems in the U.S. report on the four most common eye diseases highlight alarming increases in Calfornia since the 2000 report was issued, including:

·         200 thousand people age 50 and older have late AMD (age-related macular degeneration)

·         2.6 million people age 40 and older have cataracts

·         300 thousand people age 40 and older have open-angleglaucoma

·         940 thousand people ages 40 and older have diabetic retinopathy

“It’s no surprise that the numbers of those affected by eye disease are continuing to climb, especially due to the aging Baby Boomer population,” said Wing-See Leung, CEO of Prevent Blindness Northern California.  “What is exceptionally concerning is the dramatic spike in diabetic retinopathy cases, a consequence of the diabetes epidemic that this country is experiencing with no end in sight.”

Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20-74 years of age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the United States.  Although there is no cure for diabetic eye disease, annual eye exams for diabetes patients are essential to help slow the progression of the disease.  

All data from the Vision Problems in the U.S. report can now be obtained through a new searchable database housed on the Prevent Blindness America website at  This unique tool enables users to research a wide range of information including eye disease and condition numbers broken down by state, age, sex, and race, and provides comparisons across disease conditions. 

Added Leung, “It is our hope that this new data will provide those in the health community, the public and our government’s leaders with the vital information they need to address these troubling numbers through programs, research and funding.”

For media: Downloadable graphs and other resources can be found under the News & Resources tab at