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A merica's aging population could spell a twofold increase in vision impairment and blindness over the next three decades, claims a new study that underscores the need for bolstered low-vision services. Published in JAMA Ophthalmology, the Johns Hopkins University study determined that the annual incidence and prevalence of new low vision and blindness cases among Americans 45 years of age or older would double between 2017 and 2050. Such estimates are necessary for illustrating the debilitating toll that visual impairment will have on elderly Americans, study au- thors say, and help policymakers make decisions to prepare in the decades ahead. This study reviewed data from the 2007-08 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 6,016 participants, ranging in age from 18 to 45, to estimate prevalence rates among age groups. Researchers defined low vision as best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) in the higher-functioning eye at less than 20/60 — com- monly recognized by the World Health Organization and Medi- care — and less than 20/40 — a level generally agreed to create visual limitations. Blindness was defined as BCVA of 20/200 or less, the definition for legal blindness defined by the U.S. Social Security Administration. Data indicate the estimated prevalence of low vision would in- crease among the 45-and-older group from 3.8 million in 2017 to 7.5 million by 2050, while another metric would increase from more than 183,600 in 2017 to more than 383,500 by 2050. Blind- ness would increase from 1 million in 2017 to 2.1 million by 2050. Furthermore, researchers determined the annual incidence of low vision would climb from nearly 482,000 new cases in 2017 to 1 million by 2050, while the annual incidence of low vision (BCVA 20/60) would increase from 183,600 in 2017 to 383,500 by 2050. The number of annual new cases of blindness was estimated to increase from 134,000 in 2017 to 279,900 by 2050. Bhavani Iyer, O.D., AOA Vision Rehabilitation Committee chair, says this study clearly shows a need for more vision rehabilitation services in the coming years, and in turn, more doctors willing and able to provide care for low-vision patients. Despite these findings, a separate study claims that a sig- nificant contributing diagnosis to visual impairment – age-re- lated macular degeneration (AMD) – could be on the decline. Published in the same edition of JAMA Ophthalmology, the Uni- versity of Wisconsin-Madison study found the AMD risk for each successive generation of Americans has declined by about 60 per- cent with Baby Boomers less likely to develop the condition than the 'Silent' or 'Greatest' generations. "These results suggest that the current epidemic of AMD among the current older population may wane over time and that future research may uncover opportunities for primary prevention of this vision-threatening disorder," study authors concluded. Instances of low vision and blindness could double in the next three decades in people age 45 and older and could have a debilitating toll on elderly Americans Look dim? Does the vision of the future MINERAL KING PUBLISHING INC | FSGNEWS.COM | 9 OptOmetry

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