American demand for optometry is going to grow over the next 30 years, according to researchers, but that demand won’t necessarily be the same for every state. Accordingly, a publication in the American Journal of Ophthalmology looked into the state of Georgia’s changing demographics and future care requirements.

It used data from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, stratified by age and race, and applied that to the Prevent Blindness America eye disease prevalence values to project the likely 2050 prevalence of overall vision impairment and blindness, in addition to common ocular diseases.

The investigators found that by 2050, the state of Georgia will be home to approximately a quarter million visually impaired people. Nearly 100,000 of them will be blind and 65% will older than 80 years. This represents a whopping 350% increase in visual impairment for that 80 and older age group. The team also projects 1.7 million cases of cataracts (2.3 million with refractive error), a quarter million cases of glaucoma and 117,000 cases of macular degeneration. They add that total diabetic retinopathy cases in those older than 40 is expected to grow by 150% by 2040.

“States must have individualized projections to evaluate the unique challenges they will face and prepare for enhanced service delivery, educational campaigns, and advocacy that match the need for their state,” the report says.

Kelly E, Wen Q, Haddad D, O’Banion J. Effects of an aging population and racial demographics on eye disease prevalence: projections for Georgia through 2050. Am J Ophthalmol. November 9, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].