Trends in reported visual impairment in United States adults

David J. Lee, Kristopher L. Arheart, Byron L. Lam, Diane Zheng, Sharon L. Christ, Kathryn E. McCollister, Evelyn P. Davila, Alberto J. Caban-Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to assess if rates of reported visual impairment (VI) in the United States (US) are declining. The 1997-2005 National Health Interview Survey is an annual probability survey of US households (n = 289,442 adults 18 years of age and older). Participants responding yes to either question were classified as visually impaired: 1) "Do you have any trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses?" 2) "Are you blind or unable to see at all?" Prevalence rates were adjusted for survey design; weighted linear regression models were used to examine VI trends. Annual rates of any VI ranged from 8.6% to 10.0% with a non-significant annual downward trend of -0.04%. Significant downward trends were noted in adults who reported an eye care provider contact in the previous 12 months (-0.18%; [standard error = 0.08], p = 0.047), adults with diabetes (-0.81%; [standard error = 0.30], p = 0.01) and adults 80 years of age and older (-0.46% [0.19]; p = 0.021). Pooled analyses with adjustment for sociodemographic and diabetes status suggested that reductions in VI tended to occur in adults with eye care provider contacts. Downward trends in reported VI in older adults may be due to improvements in the treatment of ocular disease, increased eye care utilization in those with VI, or both. These findings require verification in population-based studies with clinical acuity measures in order to specifically assess the effect of eye care utilization on VI prevalence trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-49
Number of pages8
JournalOphthalmic Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Native Americans
  • Puerto Ricans
  • Visual impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Epidemiology


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