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RESEARCH STUDY

RESEARCH

Economic Analysis of the Consequences of Failure to Prevent Childhood Blindness from Amblyopia

AUTHOR:

William E. Gibson, Ph.D.

SPONSOR/INSTITUTION:

Children's Eye Foundation

YEAR PUBLISHED:

2007

PUBLICATION:

Children's Eye Foundation

KEY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Vision loss from amblyopia is treatable and consequent blindness is preventable.

  • Amblyopia has roughly the same infliction rates in children as diabetes has in the population as a whole…somewhere in the three to five percent range.

  • Screening techniques are straightforward and have been employed for many years. When used, they have cut the disease’s toll in half.

  • This study attempts to quantify “soft” as well as hard costs associated with amblyopia and contrasts these costs to the expenses associated with screening and early intervention/treatment.

SUMMARY

Much can be done to prevent childhood blindness from amblyopia. It is best treated when identified early. When identified too late, treatment is not effective.


Screening techniques are straightforward and have been employed for many years. When used, they have cut the disease’s toll in half. The cost of screening and treating those children diagnosed have been estimated to be $1.24 billion annually nationwide. This total is based on screening 4.14 million children annually and treating the expected three percent, or 124,000, who are diagnosed.


The cost of not treating amblyopia is the cost of dealing with the resulting vision impairment in an afflicted group of children and aging impaired persons. This study attempts to quantify “soft” as well as hard costs associated with amblyopia, including care, cost of facilities to treat and accommodate visual disability, emotional toll, lost wages, lost potential, and contrasts these costs to the expenses associated with screening and early intervention/treatment.