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2008 to 2017 Saw Drop in Serious Vision Impairment in U.S. Seniors

MONDAY, March 22, 2021 -- The prevalence of serious vision impairment among older Americans declined significantly between 2008 and 2017, according to a study published online Feb. 28 in Ophthalmic Epidemiology.

ZhiDi Deng and Esme Fuller-Thomson, Ph.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined temporal trends in the age-, sex-, and race/ethnicity-adjusted prevalence of vision impairment among Americans aged 65 years and older from 2008 to 2017. The authors performed a secondary analysis of 10 years of annual nationally representative data from the American Community Survey, which included 5.4 million older adults.

The researchers found that between 2008 and 2017, the prevalence of serious vision impairment decreased from 8.3 to 6.6 percent. If rates had remained at the 2008 level, there would have been an additional 848,000 older Americans with serious vision impairment in 2017. Women had a 2.1 percent decline per year in the odds of vision impairment after controlling for age, sex, and race/ethnicity, which represented a 21 percent decline over the decade; men had a 9 percent decline over the decade. Most of the decline was seen among those aged 75 years and older.

"The very small gains made by those currently aged 65 to 74 over the past decade suggest that as the Baby Boom cohort ages into their late 70s and 80s, the downward trend in the future may be much less steep than that seen from 2008 to 2017," Fuller-Thomson said in a statement.

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