How common are eye diseases and conditions?

More than 3.4 million people in the U.S. age 40 and older meet the definition of “legal blindness” (visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better-seeing eye or visual field of 20 degrees or less) or have corrected vision (visual acuity of 20/40 or less), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 7% of U.S. children under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition. Nearly 3% of children under 18 are blind or whose vision is impaired. Vision loss is among the top 10 causes of disability in the U.S in adults over the age of 18 and one of the most common disabling conditions in children.

The good news is that it’s never too late to start taking care of your eye health. Regular eye health appointments and eye exams can lead to early diagnosis. This is key to correcting or slowing most eye conditions. Always see your eye care professional if your vision problem lasts for more than a few days or worsens.

What are some of the most common eye diseases?

The four most common eye conditions leading to loss of vision or blindness are:

  • Cataracts.
  • Diabetes-related retinopathy.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Age-related macular degeneration.

However, there are hundreds of different eye diseases and disorders.

What are the most common eye conditions in children?

Eye conditions commonly seen in children include:

  • Amblyopia: Amblyopia (also called “lazy eye”) happens when your child’s brain and one eye aren’t working together properly and the brain favors the other better-seeing eye. They'll have reduced vision in the non-favored eye. This is the most common cause of vision impairment in children.
  • Strabismus: Strabismus is a lack of coordination between your child’s eyes, which causes the eyes to cross or turn out. Your child’s eyes don’t focus together on a single image at the same time. This can cause reduced 3D vision and/or the brain may favor one eye over the other, which can cause loss of vision in the non-favored eye (amblyopia, see above).
  • Conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the clear tissue that lines the inside surface of your eyelid and the outer coating of your eye. This tissue is called conjunctiva. It helps keep your eyelid and eyeball moist. Pink eye can be highly contagious, especially among children. Although it doesn’t damage vision, it causes itchy, red, blurry, tearing and discharge.