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Diabetic eye disease on the rise

October 09, 2019

AMD is strongly associated with increasing age, particularly after age 60. AMD rises dramatically in whites over age 80; more than one in 10 white Americans over age 80 has vision loss from AMD. Glaucoma is almost three times as common in African Americans as in whites. The prevalence of glaucoma rises rapidly in Hispanics over age 65. Cataract is the leading cause of low vision among all Americans, responsible for about 50 percent of all cases. One in every 12 people with diabetes age 40 and older has vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy.

"These data will help identify areas where we should direct our research efforts," said NEI Director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. "Also, health professionals and state and local agencies can use study data to prioritize public health programs emphasizing the importance of early detection and timely treatment. Developing blindness prevention strategies could help address the potentially devastating impact of the increased prevalence of eye diseases in the next few decades."

Frederick Ferris III, M.D., director of clinical research at the NEI, said that the estimates of low vision and blindness "are the first to take full advantage of information derived from several excellent eye disease studies reported since 1990. These data, collected from different populations, allow us to identify the most common eye diseases and give us good estimates of their relative magnitudes."

The study was conducted by the Eye Disease Prevalence Research Group, a consortium of principal investigators who have conducted population-based eye disease studies. The Eye Disease Prevalence Research Group produced prevalence estimates of blindness and low vision in people age 40 and over by analyzing standardized data from several high quality studies.The derived prevalence rates were then modeled to the U.S. population using 2000 census data, and projected to 2020 based on 2020 US census estimates.

A list of the eye disease studies of various populations analyzed by the Eye Disease Prevalence Research Group, and their respective authors, and data tables are attached.