Half of Americans Have Vision Problems

Posted on August 11, 2008

Eye Exam

The BBC reports that a study conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology found that half of Americans suffer from a vision problem of some kind. Most of the problems are a myopia or astigmatism according to the study. The numbers were a big jump from previous studies.

"Clinically important refractive error affects half of the U.S. population 20 years or older," wrote Susan Vitale and colleagues at the institute, one of the U.S. government's National Institutes of Health.

They analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on 12,000 people aged 20 and older between 1999 and 2004.

More than 33 percent were nearsighted and 36 percent had astigmatism, which causes fuzzy vision, the team reported. Another 3.6 percent were farsighted, meaning they can see at a distance but not up close.

"Our estimated prevalence of myopia was higher than the 25 percent reported in previous U.S. studies and similar (in persons under 40 years) to that of ethnic Chinese persons in Singapore," they wrote.

Medpage Today's article on the study has the percentages of the most common causes of vision problems. They are:

A HealthDay article about the NEI study notes that most people's vision problems are solved with corrective lenses.

Photo source: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

More from Science Space & Robots