Over the past 20 years global rates of blindness and poor vision have dropped dramatically. Researchers analyzed 243 studies in 190 countries and determined that blindness and poor vision fell by 37 percent and 27 percent from 1990 to 2010.
During this 20-year timeframe, macular degeneration replaced cataracts as the most common cause of blindness (except in eastern and central European nations where cataracts remained the leading cause). The most common vision problem is still refractive errors like near and far-sightedness. One of the most economical, effective and safe solutions to solve this worldwide problem is providing adequate eyeglasses to correct refractive errors. However, this solution is often overlooked.
In wealthy nations, the blindness rate dropped by half, from 0.2 percent of the population to 0.1 percent of the population. The rate of poor vision also decreased from 1.6 percent of the population to 1 percent of the population. Also, in wealthy nations, women were more likely to be blind or to have poor vision than men.
Although the blindness rate is dropping, one eye disease may be on the rise. Diabetes is becoming much more common in countries worldwide. After 20 years of having diabetes, nearly all Type I patients and more than 60 percent of Type II patients will develop diabetic retinopathy. One third of those patients will be at risk for losing their vision. This change may affect global blindness in the future (Source: British Journal of Ophthalmology).