U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Vision and Hearing Loss

In 2008, an estimated 25.2 million adults had trouble seeing even with eyeglasses or contact lenses, while 1.2 million adults reported moderate or a lot of trouble hearing without a hearing aid. The proportion of adults reporting trouble seeing or hearing varies with sex and age. Women were more likely than men to report trouble seeing without an aid (13.0 versus 9.3 percent, respectively), while men were more likely than women to report moderate or a lot of trouble hearing without an aid or being deaf (6.8 versus 4.3 percent, respectively; data not shown).

Among women, the proportion of those who have trouble seeing and hearing increases with age. Women aged 65 years and older were most likely to have trouble seeing (19.4 percent) and hearing (13.0 percent), followed by women aged 45–64 years (15.9 and 3.4 percent, respectively). Fewer than 8 percent of women aged 18–34 years had trouble seeing and only 1.1 percent had trouble hearing.

Vision and hearing loss caused activity limitations among more than 3 million adults in 2008. Persons with activity limitations may have trouble participating in social activities, going shopping, or attending sporting events without assistance. Among all adults with activity limitations, 3.6 percent reported that the limitation was due to vision problems, while 1.5 percent of those with limitations reported that hearing loss was the reason for the limitation. Overall, 4.4 percent of adults with any activity limitations reported the limitation due to hearing or vision loss. This did not vary significantly by sex.


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