May 2007
Volume 48, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2007
The Economic Impact and Cost of Visual Impairment in the United States
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • M. L. Pezzullo
    Economics, Access Economics, Kingston, Australia
  • R. Varma
    University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
  • A. Crook
    Economics, Access Economics, Kingston, Australia
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships M.L. Pezzullo, None; R. Varma, None; A. Crook, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support None.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2007, Vol.48, 4904. doi:
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      M. L. Pezzullo, R. Varma, A. Crook; The Economic Impact and Cost of Visual Impairment in the United States. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):4904.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose:: To quantify the total economic costs of vision loss in the United States.

Methods:: Epidemiological prevalence data of vision loss, national healthcare and other cost databases were used.

Results:: Vision loss cost the United States an estimated $69.6 billion in 2005 in financial costs and an estimated additional $103 billion is the loss of wellbeing (years of life lost as a result of disability and premature mortality), with 3.56 million Americans visually impaired. Health system expenditures were $50.1 billion for the 15.1 million people treated for visually impairing conditions (excluding properly corrected refractive error). Of this, hospital inpatient services cost $16.3 billion, pharmaceuticals and office-based services (primary care practitioners, medical specialists and allied health care) were each $10.2 billion and hospital outpatient services cost $5.2 billion. Other financial costs included $16.1 billion in community care (paid and unpaid services that provide home and personal care to people with visual impairment), productivity losses ($2.9 billion) and $346 million in devices and modifications (such as Braille/computer modifications, lenses, canes and clocks). Each year, some 600,000 years of healthy American life are lost due to low vision and blindness. Financial costs are borne 32% by individuals (households), 36% by governments and 32% by the rest of society. However, when the value of the net disease burden is included, 73% of the costs are borne by individuals, 14% by governments and 13% by other social entities.

Conclusions:: With demographic ageing, the overall population prevalence and cost of visual impairment is projected to increase in coming decades. Around 76% of visually impairing conditions are currently treated in the United States to avoid vision loss and its costly disease burden.Keywords: visual impairment; cost; economic impact

Keywords: visual acuity • clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: health care delivery/economics/manpower • clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: prevalence/incidence 

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