Lay the groundwork for future survey validation and harmonization efforts by comparing prevalence rates of self-reported visual impairment (VI) and blindness measured across federally-funded national surveys by age-groups and to prevalence rates of presenting impairment and blindness measured by physical examination.
Cross-sectional comparison of national surveys.
Participants in: 2016 American Community Survey, the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, the 1999-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health.
We estimated VI and blindness prevalence rates and confidence intervals for each survey measure and age-group using the Clopper-Pearson method. We then estimated weighted self-reported VI and blindness prevalence rates across survey measures by age-group using inverse variance weighting, fitted trend lines to age-group estimates, and used the trend-line equations to estimate the number of U.S. persons with VI and blindness in 2016. We compared these self-report estimates to those generated from NHANES physical evaluations of presenting VI and blindness.
The variability of prevalence estimates of VI and blindness RESULTS: Survey response estimates of blindness varied between 0.1% and 5.6% for age-groups =65. Estimates of VI varied between 1.6% and 24.8% for age-groups =65. For summarized survey results and NHANES physical evaluation, prevalence rates for VI increased significantly with age-group. Blindness prevalence increased significantly with age-group for summarized survey responses but not for NHANES physical examination. Based on extrapolations of NHANES physical examination data to all ages, we estimated that in 2016, 23.4 million persons in the U.S. (7.2%) had VI or blindness, an evaluated visual acuity of 20/40 or worse in the better-seeing eye before correction; based on weighted self-reported surveys, we estimated 24.8 million persons (7.7%) had presenting VI or blindness.
Prevalence rates of VI and blindness obtained from national survey measures varied widely across surveys and age-groups. Additional research is needed to validate the ability of survey self-report measures of VI and blindness to replicate results obtained through clinical exam by an eye health professional.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.