Who is Blind?
According to reports from professional organizations, a loss of vision affects 50,000 new people in the United States every year. It is most often associated with aging; half of all people who are blind are over 65.
The National Aging and Vision Network estimates that there are more than four million people in the U.S. who are 55 or older and experiencing severe vision loss. Only thirty years ago that number was just two million; the number is expected to double again by 2030. Vision loss will eventually affect almost everyone. "By age 85, 1 in 4 older people cannot read a newspaper with best corrected vision," the National Aging and Vision Network reported to the U.S. Congress in 1997. "Loss of vision dramatically affects the older person's ability to do other everyday tasks as well."
Vision loss also affects a significant number of children and young adults. The American Foundation for the Blind explains that although 24,877 children with vision loss are reported by the U.S. Department of Education, this figure falls far short of the actual number, perhaps by as much as 80 percent. This figure usually only includes students who are legally blind, overlooking those who have serious visual impairments but do not meet the criteria for legal blindness. In some cases, children with vision loss are not counted because they have other conditions reported in federally defined categories, such as "mental retardation" or "multiple disabilities."