Skip to Content

AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Facts and Figures on Adults with Vision Loss

Updated May 2018

Please note that estimates of the number of people experiencing vision loss differ based on the definitions of vision loss used, as well as on the dates the data were collected, populations surveyed, and other features of data sources. AFB urges investigators to pay attention to the detailed background information provided along with each estimate.

Topics
Demographics
Lifestyle
Education Level
Income
Insurance Coverage

Other topics that include older estimates:
Mobility
Technology

For definitions of vision loss and related terminology, see Key Definitions of Statistical Terms


Demographics

Number of American Adults with Vision Loss

According to data from the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, 25.5 million American Adults age 18 and older reported experiencing vision loss.

Definition and scope: The term vision loss refers to individuals who reported that they have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as to individuals who reported that they are blind or unable to see at all. This estimate pertains to a nationally representative sample of the non-institutionalized civilian population 18 years of age and over.

Data source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 2016, www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm.
Read our brief resource guide to NHIS data.


Gender of American Adults 18 Years of Age and Older with Vision Loss

According to the report for the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, 25.5 million Adult Americans 18 and older reported experiencing vision loss. Of these 25.5 million American adults, 15.3 million women and 10.1 million men report experiencing significant vision loss.

Definition and scope: The term vision loss refers to individuals who reported that they have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as to individuals who reported that they are blind or unable to see at all. This estimate pertains to a nationally representative sample of the non institutionalized civilian population 18 years of age and over.

Data source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey(NHIS), 2016, www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm
Read our brief resource guide to NHIS data..


Age of American Adults with Vision Loss

According to the report for the 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 18.3 million American adults between the ages of 18 and 64 and 7.3 million American adults 65 years and older report experiencing significant vision loss.

Definition and scope: The term vision loss refers to individuals who reported that they have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as to individuals who reported that they are blind or unable to see at all. This estimate pertains to a nationally representative sample of the noninstitutionalized civilian population 18 years of age and over.

Data source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 2014, www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm.
Read our brief resource guide to NHIS data.


Race and Ethnicity of American Adults with Vision Loss

According to the report for the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, Americans with vision loss report the following racial identities: Approximately 19.8 million Americans with vision loss are white, 3.6 million Americans with vision loss are black or African American, 1.1 million Americans with vision loss are Asian, and 292,000 Americans with vision loss are American Indian or Alaska Native. 647,000 Americans with vision loss indicated other races. 43,600 Americans with vision loss indicated multiple races.

Definition and scope: The term vision loss refers to individuals who reported that they have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as to individuals who reported that they are blind or unable to see at all. This estimate pertains to a nationally representative sample of the noninstitutionalized civilian population 18 years of age and over.

Data source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey(NHIS), 2016, www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm
Read our brief resource guide to NHIS data..


Lifestyle

Marital Status of American Adults with Vision Loss

Approximately 12.1 million Americans who have vision loss are married, 2.6 million are widowed, 4.3 million are divorced or separated, 4.5 million have never married, and 1.9 million live with a partner.

Definition and scope: The term vision loss refers to individuals who reported that they have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as to individuals who reported that they are blind or unable to see at all. This estimate pertains to a nationally representative sample of the non institutionalized civilian population 18 years of age and over.

Data source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey(NHIS), 2016, www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm
Read our brief resource guide to NHIS data..


Lifestyle

Place of Residence of American Adults with Vision Loss

Approximately 4.3 million people with vision loss live in the Northeast, 5.9 million live in the Midwest, 9.2 million live in the South, and 6.2 million live in the West.

Definition and scope: The term vision loss refers to individuals who reported that they have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as to individuals who reported that they are blind or unable to see at all. This estimate pertains to a nationally representative sample of the non institutionalized civilian population 18 years of age and over.

Data source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey(NHIS), 2016, www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm
Read our brief resource guide to NHIS data..


Education Level

Of Americans who have vision loss and are 25 years of age and over, 4.2 million have less than a high school diploma, 6.4 million have a high school diploma or a GED (but no further), 6.9 million have some college education but not a bachelor's degree, and 5.9 million have a bachelor's degree or higher.

Definition and scope: The term vision loss refers to individuals who reported that they have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as to individuals who reported that they are blind or unable to see at all. This estimate pertains to a nationally representative sample of the noninstitutionalized civilian population 25 years of age and over.

Data source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2016, www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm.
Read our brief resource guide to NHIS data.


Income

Approximately 10.1 million people with vision loss in the U.S. have a family income of less than $35,000, 2.8 million have a family income between $35,000 and $49,999, 3.6 million have a family income between $50,000 and $74,999, 2.3 million have a family income between $75,000 and $99,999 and 4.5 million have a family income of $100,000 or more.

Definition and scope: The term vision loss refers to individuals who reported that they have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as to individuals who reported that they are blind or unable to see at all. This estimate pertains to a nationally representative sample of the noninstitutionalized civilian population 18 years of age and over.

Data source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2016, www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm.
Read our brief resource guide to NHIS data.


services icon Directory of Services

book icon Featured Book

JVIB Special Issue on Critical Issues in Visual Impairment & BlindnessJVIB Special Issue on Critical Issues in Visual Impairment & Blindness

JVIB Special Issue on Critical Issues in Visual Impairment & Blindness

Help Make Drug Labels Safer

Help make prescription drugs safe for people with low vision. Support our Rx Label Enable Campaign today.