Craig Blackwell, MD
Ophthalmology

Santa Cruz, CA
Diplomate: American Board of Ophthalmology
Fellow: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Welcome to the Website of Craig Blackwell, MD

An Ophthalmology Practice in Santa Cruz, CA

Rates of Eye Disease in the US

Data are from the Eye Disease Prevalence Group, published in a special issue of Archives of Ophthalmology in April 2004.

Prevalence means percent of people who have a particular condition at a single point in time.

These are basic tables for the US population. You can refine your estimate of eye disease by factoring in particular risk factors.

GLAUCOMA

AGE (years)

40-49

50-54

55-59

60-64

65-69

70-74

75-79

≥ 80

Prevalence Overall (%)


0.68

0.91

1.17

1.57

2.09

2.79

3.80

7.74

Prevalence Blacks (%)

1.60

2.76

3.91

5.37

7.13

9.22

11.59

16.78

Looking at people age 40-49 the chance of having glaucoma is 0.68%, or about 1 in 150.

In the age group 70-74 the chance is 2.79%, or about 1 in 36.

As a population blacks have a significantly higher rate of glaucoma and should consider testing at an earlier age.

MACULAR DEGENERATION

In the Macular Degeneration (AMD) section of this site we looked at the progress from mild to advanced AMD.

The mild form consisted of the presence of Drusen, deposits of waste products under the retina which only affected vision when there was a significant accumulation of them.

Advanced AMD, with more vision loss, consisted of two forms, either leakage of fluid and scar formation or loss of tissue called atrophy.

AGE (years)

40-49

50-54

55-59

60-64

65-69

70-74

75-79

≥ 80

Drusen (%)

2.00

2.95

3.97

5.41

7.43

10.23

14.07

23.56

Advanced AMD (%)

0.05

0.34

0.39

0.56

0.91

1.66

3.24

11.77

Not included in this table are data for blacks where the rates of AMD and its complications are about one tenth those of the white population.

In the 40-49 age group the chance of having Drusen present is 2%, about 1 in 50 people. By age 70 to 74 it is about 1 in 10 people.

CATARACT

AGE (years)

40-49

50-54

55-59

60-64

65-69

70-74

75-79

≥80

Prevalence (%)

2.5

5.1

9.1

15.5

25.0

36.9

49.9

68.3

The occurrence of cataract definitely increases with age. The color and clarity of the lens change gradually, and depending on what threshold one chooses to determine the presence of a cataract the prevalence rate can vary considerably.

Data for this report was taken from seven large population studies in Australia, Barbados, Western Europe and the United States. Their criteria for cataract was: PSC > 1.0 mm, Cortical > 25% of lens through a dilated pupil or nuclear greater than or equal to the highest grade in the study scale. Those are different cataract types. I mention them here because in all cases they were not judging the onset of opacity, rather the presence of opacity deemed significant.

BLINDNESS BY AGE

The US standard for blindness used here is best corrected vision of less than 20/200 in the better eye. That is not the biggest letter on the vision chart, the big “E” is 20/400. Not being able to see that is the WHO criterion for blindness.

AGE (years)

40-49

50-54

55-59

60-64

65-69

70-74

75-79

≥ 80

Prevalence Overall (%)

0.12

0.13

0.16

0.24

0.36

0.59

1.10

7.05

CAUSES OF BLINDNESS BY RACE/ETHNICITY

The following table breaks down the causes of blindness. Note there is quite a difference between groups according to race/ethnicity.

Cause

AMD

Cataract

Glaucoma

Diabetic Retinopathy

Other

White

54.4 %

8.7

6.4

5.4

25.0

Hispanic

14.3

14.3

28.6

14.3

28.6

Black

4.4

36.8

26.0

7.3

25.6

CB–2008