Presbyopia and age-related near vision rates expected to increase, according to researchers

December 10, 2008

In 2005, about 1 billion individuals worldwide had presbyopia or age-related difficulty seeing objects nearby and an estimated 410 million with the condition were unable to perform tasks requiring near vision, according to a report in the December issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Sydney-In 2005, about 1 billion individuals worldwide had presbyopia or age-related difficulty seeing objects nearby and an estimated 410 million with the condition were unable to perform tasks requiring near vision, according to a report in the December issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

"Although known physiology and population demographics suggest that presbyopia is common or nearly universal in people older than 65 years, direct estimates of prevalence are rare," the authors wrote. "The total number of people with presbyopia is primarily of interest as a precursor to the figures of greatest public health interest: the number of people with impaired vision due to uncorrected or undercorrected presbyopia and the effect on their lives."

Brien A. Holden, PhD, DSc, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, and colleagues analyzed multiple surveys to estimate the global prevalence of presbyopia, along with the rate at which the condition is corrected and the vision impairment caused when it is not. Using the International Data Base of the U.S. Census Bureau, they extrapolated estimates for the future.

Researchers were able to find that in 2005, 517 million people who had presbyopia had no eyeglasses or inadequate eyeglasses. The majority (386 million or 94%) of the individuals whose daily tasks were impaired by uncorrected presbyopia lived in the developing world.

Predictions of the researchers show that presbyopia will increase to 1.4 billion in 2020 and 1.8 billion by 2050.

These estimates are based on the best available information, the authors note.

"More epidemiological research in presbyopia is needed to decrease the assumptions and generalizations required for a better global estimate," the authors wrote. "As more data become available, an increasingly accurate picture of the burden of presbyopia will emerge."

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