How Many Blind People are in the World? Exploring Global Prevalence and Impact


Blindness and visual impairment affect millions of people around the world, with varying degrees of severity. In this article, we will explore the global prevalence of blindness and visual impairment, its impact on society, causes and risk factors, accessibility and support services, and economic impact. We will also provide a comparison across countries to understand how the issue varies around the world.

Definition of Blindness and Visual Impairment

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines blindness as “visual acuity worse than 3/60 or corresponding visual field loss to less than 10° from the point of fixation”. Visual impairment is defined as “visual acuity of worse than 6/18 but equal to or better than 3/60 or corresponding visual field loss to more than 10° from the point of fixation”. This means that those who are classified as blind have vision worse than 20/200, while those with visual impairment may have vision between 20/70 and 20/200. Both conditions can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetic disorders, age-related degeneration, eye injuries, and environmental factors.

Overview of Global Prevalence

According to the WHO, there are an estimated 285 million people living with low vision or blindness worldwide. Of these, 39 million are children and 246 million are adults. The majority of those affected are over the age of 50, with the highest prevalence in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The most common causes of blindness and visual impairment include cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, corneal scarring, and refractive errors.

Impact on Society Worldwide

Blindness and visual impairment can have a profound effect on individuals, families, and communities. Those affected often face social stigma due to their disability, which can lead to feelings of isolation and exclusion. Additionally, they may face accessibility issues when it comes to transportation, employment, and other activities of daily life.

Causes and Risk Factors

There are a number of potential causes and risk factors for blindness and visual impairment. Genetics play a role, as some diseases and conditions are hereditary. Age is also a factor, as vision tends to deteriorate with age. Other conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the risk of developing certain eye diseases. Finally, environmental factors such as exposure to ultraviolet radiation and air pollution can contribute to vision loss.

Accessibility and Support Services

Fortunately, there are a number of accessibility and support services available for those living with blindness or visual impairment. Assistive technology such as screen readers and magnifiers can help those with vision loss access digital information and products. Educational and training programs can also help those with vision loss develop skills and gain independence. Additionally, there are a number of employment opportunities available for those who are visually impaired.

Economic Impact

The economic impact of visual impairment is significant. Treatment can be expensive, and many people don’t have access to the resources needed to receive appropriate care. Additionally, those with vision loss may be unable to work, leading to a loss of productivity.

Comparison Across Countries

When looking at global trends, there are some differences in the prevalence of blindness and visual impairment among countries. For example, India has the highest rate of blindness in the world, with an estimated 6.5 million people affected. By contrast, the United States has one of the lowest rates, with an estimated 0.3 million people affected. Additionally, access to services and support can vary greatly depending on where one lives.


In conclusion, blindness and visual impairment affect millions of people around the world. While the prevalence of these conditions varies across countries, they can have a significant impact on individuals, families, and communities. Accessibility and support services are available, but more needs to be done to ensure everyone has access to the resources they need.

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