This is just one of the shocking facts about sight loss found in recent studies, but what are some of the other stats you really need to know about?
Emma Edwards, Insight Analyst at RNIB, provides information that reflects the extent of sight loss across the UK.
More than two million people are living with sight loss that has a significant impact on their daily life.
The estimated number of people living with sight loss in England is 1.7 million.
The estimated number of people living with sight loss in Wales is 107,000.
The estimated number of people living with sight loss in Scotland is 171,000.
The estimated number of people living with sight loss in Northern Ireland is 51,000.
(DAE, 2017 and ONS, 2015)
There are over 25,000 visually impaired children aged 16 years and under.
In England, 21,900 children are estimated to be visually impaired.
In Wales, 1,200 children are estimated to be visually impaired.
In Scotland, 1,900 children are estimated to be visually impaired.
In Northern Ireland, 800 children are estimated to be visually impaired.
(Morris and Smith, 2008 and ONS, 2015)
Every day 250 people start to lose their sight.
One in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime.
Around 350,000 people are registered blind or partially sighted in the UK.
In England, over 143,000 people are registered blind and over 147,000 are registered partially sighted (HSCIC, 2014).
In Wales, almost 8,000 people are registered severely sight impaired and over 8,000 are registered sight impaired (Welsh Government, 2016).
In Scotland, almost 19,000 people are registered severely sight impaired and over 15,000 are registered partially sighted (Scottish Government, 2010).
An estimated 100,000 adults with learning disabilities are blind or partially sighted in the UK (RNIB, 2017).
People from certain ethnic communities are at greater risk of some of the leading causes of sight loss:
Black African and Caribbean people are four to eight times more at risk of developing certain forms of glaucoma compared to white people.
The risk of diabetic eye disease is around three times greater in South Asian people compared to white people.
Black African and Caribbean people are also at a higher risk of diabetic eye disease.
(Wormald et al., 1994; Cross et al.,2007; Pardhan et al., 2004; Sivaprasad et al., 2012)
The older you are, the greater your risk of sight loss. One in five people aged 75 and over are living with sight loss (DAE, 2017).
39 per cent have refractive error.
23 per cent have age-related macular degeneration.
19 per cent have cataracts.
7 per cent have glaucoma.
7 per cent have other eye diseases.
5 per cent have diabetic retinopathy.
48 per cent of people are blind due to AMD
17.5 per cent due to glaucoma
16 per cent due to cataracts
9 per cent due to other eye diseases
8 per cent due to diabetic eye disease
2 per cent due to refractive error
There are numerous causes of blindness in children, but cerebral visual impairment is the commonest cause of certification for severe sight impairment in England and Wales (Mitry et al, 2013).
The projected estimate for the number of people with sight loss in the UK in 2050 is 4,145,000 (Pezzullo L, et al, 2016).
The direct healthcare cost linked to eye health is estimated to be at least £3 billion every year. This includes NHS healthcare expenditure.
Indirect costs associated with sight loss cost the UK economy around £6 billion every year. This includes costs due to lower employment rates and unpaid care provision.
It is estimated that the associated reduction in wellbeing and health due to sight loss totals £19 billion every year..
(Pezzullo et al, 2016)
Only 17 per cent of people experiencing sight loss are offered emotional support in relation to their deteriorating vision.
Less than one in three registered blind and partially sighted people were offered mobility training, and only one in five received any practical support around the home.
Only one in four registered blind or partially sighted people of working age is in employment.
(My Voice, 2015)
If you have any questions about any of the stats you have read in this article, please contact Emma and the Insight's team at [email protected].
RNIB is a leading source of information on sight loss and the issues affecting blind and partially sighted people. Read more about the work RNIB is involved in at Knowledge and Research Hub.
Read RNIB and Specsavers' The State of the Nation Eye Health 2017: A Year in Review report.