In the past 12 years, it has risen an alarming 89%, Todd tells WebMD. Nearly 8 million people ages 40 and above now have it.
"We suspect that is largely due to the spike in diabetes and the diabetes epidemic we are facing as a country, as well as the increase in Hispanic and African-American populations, which tend to have a higher rate of diabetes," he says.
Another vision problem, age-related macular degeneration, is up substantially, with a 25% increase, Todd says. The macula is the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision.
More than 2 million age 50 and older are affected now.
The report, titled "Vision Problems in the U.S.," was released today by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute.
These reports are issued periodically, using Census data and new research. For the current update, the researchers compared the current number of Americans with vision problems with the numbers from 2000.
As the number of Americans with vision problems has been increasing, Todd tells WebMD, funding for research and education programs has been slashed. Last year, the CDC saw its research funding dip from about $3.2 million to about $500,000, he says.