Population Prevalence of Vision Impairment in US Adults 71 Years and Older: The National Health and Aging Trends Study

Existing estimates of the prevalence of vision impairment (VI) in the United States are based on self-reported survey data or measures of visual function that are at least 14 years old. There is a need for up-to-date, objectively measured, national epidemiological estimates.

This survey study presents a secondary data analysis of the 2021 National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), a population-based, nationally representative panel study of Medicare beneficiaries 65 years and older.

After excluding respondents who did not complete the sample person interview (n = 429) and those with missing vision data (n = 362), there were 3026 participants. Of these, 29.5% (95% CI, 27.3%-31.8%) were 71 to 74 years old, and 55.2% (95% CI, 52.8%-57.6%) were female respondents. The prevalence of VI in US adults 71 years and older was 27.8% (95% CI, 25.5%-30.1%). Distance and near visual acuity and contrast sensitivity impairments were prevalent in 10.3% (95% CI, 8.9%-11.7%), 22.3% (95% CI, 20.3%-24.3%), and 10.0% (95% CI, 8.5%-11.4%), respectively.

More than 1 in 4 US adults 71 years and older had VI in 2021, higher than prior estimates. Differences in the prevalence of VI by socioeconomic and demographic factors were observed. These data could inform public health planning

Publication date

January 3, 2023


JAMA Ophthalmology


Olivia J. Killeen; Lindsey B. De Lott
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