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S.-L. Chou, E. L. Lamoureux, J. E. Keeffe; The Personal Costs Associated With Vision Impairment. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):2399.
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To determine the personal costs associated with impaired vision in Australia and to identify the significant independent predictors of overall expenditure.
Personal costs were collected over 12 months using diaries sent monthly to all participants. Costs were calculated per annum. For participants who returned less than 12 months diaries, their data were extrapolated to annual figures. Baseline and follow-up questionnaires were administered to obtain demographic, socio-economic, clinical and vision information, and to test the validity of the diary data.
In total, 227 people consented to participate and 150 of them were deemed eligible as they completed diaries for periods ≥3 months. The participants’ mean age was 64.8 yr (range 10-93) and 60.7% were female. Most (44%) had severe vision impairment in the better eye (<6/60) and the most common eye condition was AMD (38.7%). Participants were equally located in the rural and urban areas of Australia. 102 participants completed the diaries over 12 months. In total, almost 60% of the monthly diaries were returned indicating a good participation rate. The median annual personal costs was AUD$2,417 (range = 7 - 18,610). The highest median expenditures were related to costs associated with special ‘equipment’ ($202, range = 23 - 4,986), ‘personal care services’ ($280, range = 4 - 7,360), ‘home help’ ($482, range = 3 - 6,574), ‘transport assistance’ ($446, range = 8 - 5,091), and ‘taxi’ services ($260, range = 7 - 3,125). Six variables were univariately associated with total costs, namely residential location, subsidy, private health cover, employment, income status and social welfare, presenting visual acuity, and cause of vision impairment (p<0.05 for all). In the regression model, only the variable ‘employment, income status and social welfare’ was identified as an independent significant predictor of total costs. When diary entries were validated against specific questions in the follow-up questionnaire, there was evidence of underreporting of costs in some cases.
People with impaired vision experience substantial personal costs associated with their eye condition. Considering the evidence of underreporting, the economic burden of personal costs associated with impaired vision may be even greater than current estimations.
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