The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its Vision Health Initiative estimates that up to 21 million older Americans suffer from “vision problems” and about 80 million have potentially blinding eye diseases, the Queens Chronicle reports.
The CDC found that 3.4 million Americans over age 40 are blind or visually impaired
“The major causes of vision loss are cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma,” according to the CDC, and it predicts that the numbers will increase as the elderly population continues to grow.
But CDC officials also say early detection and treatment can prevent much vision loss, and that it’s feasible to address vision loss at the community or public health level.
The CDC says seniors and those in the African-American community are particularly vulnerable.
“Efficacious and cost-effective strategies to detect and treat diabetic retinopathy are available, but among people with diabetes, screening is received only by about two-thirds of persons for whom the exam is recommended and varies significantly across health care settings,” according to the agency.
“Cataract removal surgery can restore vision, and this surgery is cost effective; however, among African Americans, unoperated senile cataracts remain a major cause of blindness,” the report states.