Prevalence of Visual Acuity Loss or Blindness in the US

Published May 13, 2021, in JAMA Ophthalmology (opens in a new window)


Globally, more than 250 million people live with visual acuity loss or blindness, and people in the US fear losing vision more than memory, hearing, or speech. But it appears there are no recent empirical estimates of visual acuity loss or blindness for the US.


To produce estimates of visual acuity loss and blindness by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and US state.

Data Sources  

Data from the American Community Survey (2017), National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2008), and National Survey of Children’s Health (2017), as well as population-based studies (2000-2013), were included.

Study Selection 

All relevant data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System were included.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  

The prevalence of visual acuity loss or blindness was estimated, stratified when possible by factors including US state, age group, sex, race/ethnicity, and community-dwelling or group-quarters status. Data analysis occurred from March 2018 to March 2020.

Main Outcomes or Measures 

The prevalence of visual acuity loss (defined as a best-corrected visual acuity greater than or equal to 0.3 logMAR) and blindness (defined as a logMAR of 1.0 or greater) in the better-seeing eye.


For 2017, this meta-analysis generated an estimated US prevalence of 7.08 (95% uncertainty interval, 6.32-7.89) million people living with visual acuity loss, of whom 1.08 (95% uncertainty interval, 0.82-1.30) million people were living with blindness. Of this, 1.62 (95% uncertainty interval, 1.32-1.92) million persons with visual acuity loss are younger than 40 years, and 141 000 (95% uncertainty interval, 95 000-187 000) persons with blindness are younger than 40 years.

Conclusions and Relevance  

This analysis of all available data with modern methods produced estimates substantially higher than those previously published.

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Flaxman AD, Wittenborn JS, Robalik T, Gulia R, Gerzoff RB, Lundeen EA, Saaddine J, Rein DB. Prevalence of Visual Acuity Loss or Blindness in the US. JAMA Ophthalmology. 13 May 2021. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2021.0527.


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