The number of U.S. seniors with serious vision problems has declined in recent decades, with the steepest drop among African Americans and Hispanic Americans, according to a study from the University of Toronto.
Investigators analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which queried 5.4 million community-dwelling and congregate-living older adults aged 65 years and older about their health. The survey determined whether participants were affected by blindness or had “serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses.”
The prevalence of impairment fell from 8% to 6.6% between 2008 and 2017, with much of the decline among adults aged 75 years and older, reported Esme Fuller-Thompson, Ph.D. If levels had remained where they were in 2008, there would have been an additional 848,000 older Americans with serious vision impairment in 2017, she wrote.
Notably, the number of women reporting severely impaired vision declined by 21%, and men reported a 9% decline over the study period. Adjusting for education level, however, showed no decline in severe vision issues among men with relatively less education and brought the rate of decline to 13% among women. In addition, racial and ethnic disparities narrowed over the decade, Fuller-Thompson reported.
The study was published in Ophthalmic Epidemiology.