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RESEARCH STUDY

RESEARCH

The Economic Burden of Major Adult Visual Disorders in the US

AUTHOR:

David B. Rein, PhD

SPONSOR/INSTITUTION:

YEAR PUBLISHED:

2004

PUBLICATION:

JAMA Ophthalmology

KEY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • In 2004, more than 3.6 million Americans suffered from visual impairment or blindness and millions more experienced eye diseases or a refractive error correctable with glasses or contact lenses.

  • The research indicated that the annual total financial burden of major adult visual disorders in 2004 was $35.4 billion.

  • Well-designed public health programs may have the ability to reduce this burden

SUMMARY

This study was conducted to estimate the societal economic burden and the governmental budgetary impact of the following visual disorders among US adults aged 40 years and older: visual impairment, blindness, refractive error, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and primary open-angle glaucoma.


The research indicated that the annual total financial burden of major adult visual disorders in 2004 was $35.4 billion ($16.2 billion in direct medical costs, $11.1 billion in other direct costs, and $8 billion in productivity losses) and that the annual governmental budgetary impact is $13.7 billion.


The direct medical costs for each condition were roughly $6.8 billion for cataracts, $5.5 billion for refractive error, $2.9 billion for glaucoma, $575 million for AMD, and $493 million for diabetic retinopathy. Outpatient and pharmaceutical services comprised the majority of direct medical costs, with inpatient costs accounting for virtually no costs.


Refractive error accounted for the largest share of direct medical costs among those aged 40 to 64 years (46.2%), while cataracts accounted for the largest share among patients aged 65 years and older (56.2%). Across all ages, 75.6% of direct medical costs were attributable to cataracts and refractive error, with another 17.8% attributable to glaucoma.


Arch Ophthalmol. 2006;124(12):1754-1760. doi:10.1001/archopht.124.12.1754.