The number of Americans with visual impairment or blindness will climb to more than eight million by the year 2050—approximately twice the current number—and an additional 16.4 million Americans are expected to have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error, based on a National Institutes of Health analysis of six large studies.

Several factors explain the increases, including the aging of the baby boom generation and a rise in systemic diseases (such as diabetes) that can impact patients’ vision. This study also shows that refractive error is the leading cause of visual impairment in the United States, as well as worldwide.

But these predictions aren’t inevitable. Optometrists and ophthalmologists can help lessen these estimated numbers by encouraging patients to get vision screenings and eye exams, according to the investigators. Vision screening and proper refractive correction could produce clinical improvements in up to 72% of Americans with vision impairment and 22% of those with blindness, they say.

“Early detection and intervention—possibly as simple as prescribing corrective lenses—could go a long way toward preventing a significant proportion of avoidable vision loss,” said Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, director of the National Eye Institute, which funded the study.

Among all demographic groups, non-Hispanic white women will represent the largest proportion of people affected by visual impairment and blindness, with their numbers rising to 2.15 million visually impaired and 610,000 blind. However, the highest prevalence of visual impairment among non-whites will shift from African Americans (15.2% in 2015 to 16.3% in 2050) to Hispanics (9.9% in 2015 to 20.3% in 2050).

The study even localized its predictions by state, speculating that blindness will most affect Mississippi (up to 1.25% by 2050) and Louisiana (1.2% by 2050). For visual impairment, Florida will have the highest per capita prevalence (3.98% by 2050) and Hawaii (3.93% by 2050) will closely follow.