Blindness and Low Vision

FACT SHEET

  • It is estimated that about 1.3 million people in the U.S. are legally blind. Legal blindness refers to central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less.
  • Each year 75,000 more people in the United States will become blind or visually impaired.
  • It is estimated that as many as 10 million Americans are blind or visually impaired.
  • There are 5.5 million seniors in the United States who are either blind or visually impaired.
  • Studies show that over the next 30 years aging baby boomers will double the current number of blind or visually impaired Americans.
  • A Gallup poll shows that blindness is the third most feared physical condition in our nation, surpassed only by fears of cancer and AIDS.
  • Just 1% of the blind population is born without sight. The vast majority of blind people lose their vision later in life because of macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetes.
  • With macular degeneration, central vision deteriorates, resulting in blurred vision and eventually leading to blindness. Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve through pressure, compromising peripheral vision first. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina. While there are treatments to delay these conditions, there is no cure. 
  • Macular degeneration affects about 13 million Americans.
  • Among working-age blind adults 70% remain unemployed, despite the federal and state annual rehabilitation expenditures of over $250 million.
  • There are 93,600 blind or visually impaired school age children in the U.S.
  • Nonvisual access to computer technology is an ever-increasing challenge for the blind. Most educational and employment opportunities are now and will continue to be dependent on the blind individual's ability to access and use a full range of computer and Internet technology.