Key information and statistics

Key information and statistics on sight loss.

Sight loss in the UK:

How many people have sight loss in the UK?

As of 2015, over two million people in the UK are living with sight loss.

Who has sight loss?

Sight loss affects people of all ages, but as we get older we are increasingly likely to experience sight loss.

  • One in five people aged 75 and over are living with sight loss.
  • One in two people aged 90 and over are living with sight loss.
  • Nearly two-thirds of people living with sight loss are women.
  • People from black and minority ethnic communities are at greater risk of some of the leading causes of sight loss.
  • Adults with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to be blind or partially sighted than the general population.

Sight Loss Data Tool

Our Sight Loss Data Tool gives factual information about sight loss for each region and local authority in England supporting the work done by the UK Vision Strategy. This is available for you to use free of charge.

Evidence-based reviews

Our Evidence-based reviews look at the common issues and challenges that affect blind and partially sighted people in particular age groups.

Eye Health and Prevention:

What are the main causes of blindness in adults?

Age-related macular degeneration is by far the leading cause of blindness in adults. Other significant causes of sight loss are glaucomacataracts and diabetic retinopathy.

Visit our Eye Health pages for an A-Z of Eye Conditions

How much sight loss is preventable?

At least 50 per cent of sight loss can be avoided. Many older people are needlessly living with sight loss. Almost two thirds of sight loss in older people is caused by refractive error and cataract. Both conditions can be diagnosed by a simple eye test. In most cases the person's sight could be improved by prescribing correct glasses or cataract surgery.

State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016

The State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016 report contains the data and insight that commissioners, policy makers, service providers and professionals working in the health, care and voluntary sectors need in order to make a difference.

Realities of sight loss:

  • Only 17 per cent of registered blind and partially sighted people were offered any form of emotional support at the time of diagnosis. 
  • In the year after registration, less than 30 per cent of people who lost their sight say they were offered mobility training to help them get around independently.
  • Almost half of blind and partially sighted people feel 'moderately' or 'completely' cut off from people and things around them.
  • Older people with sight loss are almost three times more likely to experience depression than people with good vision.
  • Only one in four registered blind and partially sighted people of working age are in employment.

My Voice 2015 

My Voice 2015 provides a unique insight into the realities of life as a blind or partially sighted person in the UK today. This is the only survey of its kind . The findings are based on telephone interviews with over 1,200 participants from across the UK. 


How many people are registered as blind or partially sighted? 

As of 2017, there are around 350,000 people registered as blind or partially sighted in the UK.
  • 290,475 in England
  • 16,994 in Wales
  • 7,895 in Northern Ireland
  • 34,490 in Scotland (2010 figures)

How does the registered population relate to the number of people with sight loss? 

The almost two million people living with sight loss is an estimate based on how commonly different eye conditions occur. It takes into account factors such as age, gender and ethnicity, and builds up a picture of the numbers of people who are living with significant sight loss in the UK. This picture not only includes people who are registered, but also those who are waiting for treatment, those whose sight could be improved, those who have not registered for whatever reason and people whose sight loss is not at a level that allows them to register. At RNIB we believe that almost two million is a much more accurate reflection of the numbers living with sight loss than using registration figures.

Sight Loss: What we needed to know

Download this helpful information guide put together by people who’ve experienced losing their sight and published by a range of organisations that support people with sight loss.

Cost of sight loss and future predictions:

What is the cost of sight loss to the UK economy each year?

In 2008 sight loss cost at least £6.5 billion, and this is likely to increase as the number of people with sight loss increases. This figure does not include the cost of sight loss in children.

This cost is made up of:

  • £2.14 billion in direct health care costs, such as eye clinics, prescriptions and operations.
  • £4.34 billion in indirect costs, such as unpaid carer costs and reduced employment rates.

How will the number of people with sight loss change in the future?

The number of people in the UK with sight loss is set to increase dramatically in the future. As we get older we are increasingly likely to experience sight loss, and the UK population is ageing. In addition, there is a growing incidence in key underlying causes of sight loss, such as obesity and diabetes. This means that, without action, the numbers of people with sight problems in the UK are likely to increase dramatically over the next 25 years.

It is predicted that by 2020 the number of people with sight loss will rise to over 2,250,000. By 2050, the number of people with sight loss in the UK will double to nearly four million.

Future Sight Loss UK

For more information on the number of people living with sight loss and costs please see our research reports:

More key information and statistics:

Eye health data summary report

This excellent summary of eye health data provides a snapshot of what is being measured, counted and published about national eye care services.

Sight loss statistics postcard

A number of sight loss sector organisations have assessed and agreed a series of key facts for everyone to use.

Key statistics on children and young people

These key statistics on vision impairment in children and young people were developed by the VISION 2020 UK Children and Young People's Social Research Group and are the result of a collaboration between the sight loss sector organisations.

Any more questions?

If you have any additional questions then you will find a lot more information in our Research reports section. 

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