Objectives: To determine the prevalence of cataract and pseudophakia/aphakia in the United States and to project the expected change in these prevalence figures by 2020.
Methods: Summary prevalence estimates of cataract and of pseudophakia/aphakia were prepared separately for black, white, and Hispanic persons (for whom only cataract surgery data were available) in 5-year age intervals starting at 40 years for women and men. The estimates were based on a standardized definition of various types of cataract: cortical, greater than 25% of the lens involved; posterior subcapsular, present according to the grading system used in each study; and nuclear, greater than or equal to the penultimate grade in the system used. Data were collected from major population-based studies in the United States, and, where appropriate, Australia, Barbados, and Western Europe. The age-, gender-, and race/ethnicity-specific rates were applied to 2000 US Census data, and projected population figures for 2020, to obtain overall estimates.
Results: An estimated 20.5 million (17.2%) Americans older than 40 years have cataract in either eye, and 6.1 million (5.1%) have pseudophakia/aphakia. Women have a significantly (odds ratio = 1.37; 95% confidence interval, 1.26-1.50) higher age-adjusted prevalence of cataract than men in the United States. The total number of persons who have cataract is estimated to rise to 30.1 million by 2020; and for those who are expected to have pseudophakia/aphakia, to 9.5 million.
Conclusion: The number of Americans affected by cataract and undergoing cataract surgery will dramatically increase over the next 20 years as the US population ages.