Key information and statistics on sight loss in the UK
Find key information and statistics on sight loss in the UK.
There are over 2 million people in the UK living with sight loss
These people meet the international definition of vision impairment and include everyone whose vision is worse than 6/12 Snellen – that is halfway down the optician’s letter chart. This is also the amount of vision loss that requires people to surrender their driving license in the UK.
This includes a wide range of people, including those whose vision could be improved by wearing correctly prescribed glasses. There may be a wide range of reasons why people don’t have vision corrected if possible, such as additional needs (e.g. dementia).
340,000 people are registered blind or partially sighted in the UK
This is a sub-group of the 2 million. These people will have been through the health service to receive a Certification of Vision Impairment (CVI) and social care (as part of the registration process). Eligibility for registration is complex – but typically someone would not be eligible for a CVI until their vision acuity was worse than 6/60 – that is, they couldn’t read the top letter on the optician’s letter chart.
Nearly 80 per cent are 65 or older, and around 60 per cent are 75+
Age is a significant risk factor related to eye health and sight loss.
Well over half of people with sight loss are women
Around 60 per cent of people living with sight loss are women. Women have a higher life expectancy and have a higher age-specific prevalence of some of the leading causes of sight loss in older age.
People from certain ethnic minority groups are at greater risk of some of the leading causes of sight loss
Younger people from ethnic minority groups may be at greater risk of developing some of the leading causes of sight loss. But overall people from ethnic minority backgrounds are not more likely to have sight loss compared to white people. This is because risk of sight loss is so closely linked to age, and ethnic minority groups in the UK have a younger average age.
However, certain ethnic groups do have a greater risk of developing 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.
- The risk of diabetic eye disease is around three times greater in South Asian people.
- Black African and Caribbean people are also at a higher risk of diabetic eye disease.
There is also evidence that people from ethnic minority backgrounds experience barriers to accessing eye health care, which will increase their risk of avoidable sight loss.
Key statistics about sight loss
Below you can download our Key Statistics about Sight Loss in Word and PDF format. Published in September 2021, the messaging in this document reflects the latest evidence, research and statistics available and dates. This information can be used to support a wide range of communications.