Regular eye exams could help to prevent much of that vision loss, the leader author of the report, Dr. David S. Friedman, said Wednesday.
"If nothing is done and we just go on the way we're going now, we're going to have a massive increase in the number of visually impaired and blind in America," said Friedman, a professor at the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Paul Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute, said that "the longer we live, the more likely we are to develop one of these eye diseases."
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a statement that regular eye checkups are essential to prevent vision loss.
The study lists four primary threats:
The report said laser surgery and a procedure called a vitrectomy are effective in treating diabetic retinopathy.
Currently there is no generally accepted treatment for dry AMD. Laser therapies to destroy leaking blood vessels can help reduce the risk of advancing vision loss in many cases of wet AMD. Research indicates a combination of zinc, beta-carotene and vitamins C and E may also reduce the risk of advanced AMD by 25 percent.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world, and affect nearly 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older. By age 80, more than half of all Americans develop cataracts.
Surgical treatment can eliminate vision loss due to the disease, but cataracts still account for a significant amount of vision impairment in the United States.
Most cases can be controlled and vision loss can be slowed or halted by early treatment, but any vision already lost to glaucoma cannot be restored.
The report was released by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, and Prevent Blindness America, a volunteer eye health and safety organization.