America’s Eye Health Will Be Way Worse By 2050

The blindness outlook is dark

Cataract

Cataract

See that cloudiness in the middle of the eye? That's a cataract on a patient's lens.Rakesh Ahuja via Wikimedia Commons

Glasses and contacts will become a lot more common in the next few decades, as will cataracts, according to the National Institutes of Health.

A new NIH study says that blindness and visual impairment rates will double by 2050. Each decade for the next 35 years, the current population of visually impaired Americans (those with 20/40 or worse) will grow by 20 percent, from about 3.2 million in 2015. This group does not include the 16 million additional cases of correctable impairments like the nearsightedness and the farsightedness.

Those with other issues, like cataracts that require surgery to fix, will be one of the largest growth groups nationally, as baby boomers continue to age. "The greatest burden of visual impairment and blindness will affect those 80 years or older," the study explains, "as advanced age is a key risk factor for diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataract."

You're welcome, Lenscrafters and Oliver Peoples.