(HealthDay News) – Over the past several decades there has been a significant decrease in the prevalence of self-reported visual impairment among older adults in the United States.

Angelo P Tanna, MD, from Northwestern University in Chicago, and H Stephen Kaye, PhD, from the University of California at San Francisco, analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) from 1984–2010. Survey results were age-adjusted to a standard (2010) population.

The researchers found that, based on NHIS data, the prevalence of activity-limiting visual impairment among persons aged ≥65 years significantly declined by 51.7% from 1984–1996 (from 3.5% to 1.7%) and by 45.8% from 1997–2010 (from 3.1% to 1.7%). According to SIPP data, the prevalence of functional visual impairment in the same age group significantly declined by 58.3% from 1984–2010 (from 23.3% to 9.7%), whereas the prevalence of severe functional impairment declined by 47.1% (from 5.1% to 2.7%).

“There was a marked reduction in the prevalence of self-reported visual impairment in the non-institutionalized adult U.S. population during the period from 1984–2010,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

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