Sight is critical to reaching our full health potential, and national surveys find that people fear vision loss more than losing hearing, memory, speech or even a limb.
Approximately 27 million adults currently have complete vision loss or difficulty seeing that can’t be corrected by contacts or glasses. As more of us live longer, more of us struggle with age-related vision decline. By 2050, the number of people with blindness is expected to double to roughly 8 million. Notably age is associated with higher rates of the most common eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Today, we are in a better position to handle vision challenges because of past investments in vision research. A diagnosis of cataracts, for example, once meant years of compromised vision and ultimately blindness. Today, outpatient cataract surgery restores sight in an afternoon and enables thousands of people each year to get right back to living better, sighted lives.
With greater awareness of and sustained support for vision research, scientists in this country and around the world will continue to develop new insights that not only improve or restore sight but help us develop treatments for a whole range of neurological, endocrine, and other problems.