Trends in Self-reported Visual Impairment in the United States: 1984 to 2010

      Objective

      To explore trends in the prevalence of self-reported visual impairment in the noninstitutionalized adult US population during the 27-year period from 1984 to 2010.

      Design

      Data obtained from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) were used to analyze trends in the prevalence of self-reported visual impairment in the United States.

      Participants

      Representative, population-based samples of between 45 000 and 92 000 adults (NHIS) and between 37 000 and 71 000 adults (SIPP) during each year of data collection.

      Methods

      Survey results were age-adjusted to a standard (2010) population. Sampling weights were used throughout the analysis using strata and primary sampling unit variables provided in the public use datasets to appropriately take into account the complex design of the surveys. The statistical significance of trends was estimated by computing the difference in chi-squares of a fit to a linear trendline and a fit without a trend.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The trends and percent change in the prevalence of visual impairment from 1984 to 1996 and from 1997 to 2010 for NHIS and 1984 to 2010 for SIPP.

      Results

      On the basis of NHIS data, the prevalence of activity-limiting visual impairment among persons aged ≥65 years declined by 51.7% ( P < 0.001), from 3.5% in 1984 to 1.7% in 1996, and by 45.8% ( P < 0.001), from 3.1% in 1997 to 1.7% in 2010. On the basis of SIPP data, the prevalence of functional visual impairment in the same age category declined by 58.3% ( P < 0.001), from 23.3% in 1984 to 9.7% in 2010, whereas the prevalence of severe functional impairment declined by 47.1% ( P < 0.001), from 5.1% to 2.7%.

      Conclusions

      There was a marked reduction in the prevalence of self-reported visual impairment in the noninstitutionalized adult US population during the period from 1984 to 2010.

      Financial Disclosure(s)

      Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.
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