Visions of the Future

About 80 percent of blindness is avoidable (preventable or curable).¹

Even so, the prevalence and costs of vision problems are set to grow at an alarming rate, fueled by demographic shifts, including the aging of the baby-boomer population, extraordinary increases in the population in the oldest age groups, and the growth of minority populations, according to a report from Prevent Blindness.²

By 2050, Prevent Blindness projects that the prevalence of vision loss will grow by 135 percent, from 4.4 million to more than 10 million people.²

The total prevalence of cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and advanced age-related macular degeneration is expected to increase by 77 percent to nearly 70 million adults by 2050.²

This spectacular growth in the prevalence of vision problems will be evident in their resulting costs, with the total real costs of vision problems expected to increase by 157 percent, from $145 billion in 2014 to $373 billion by 2050, with total nominal expenditures in 2050 exceeding $700 billion.²

The situation is even more dire worldwide. The World Health Organization offers these key facts about vision loss:³

  • 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision.
  • About 90 percent of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income settings.
  • 82 percent of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above.
  • Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment; cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness in middle- and low-income countries.
  • The number of people visually impaired from infectious diseases has reduced in the last 20 years, according to global estimates work.
  • 80 percent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.


For more information about the challenges facing individuals and societies, and about other organizations working to preserve vision, check out these resources:


1. 1998 Journal of Community Eye Health, International Centre for Eye Health, London
2. The Future of Vision, Forecasts of the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems by Prevent Blindness, a non-profit organization
3. Visual impairment and blindness Fact Sheet N°282, Updated August 2014

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