The total annual economic burden of major adult visual disorders exceeds $35 billion, of which the federal government pays $13.7 billion. These economic costs are in addition to the substantial quality of life losses associated with visual impairment and blindness. “Currently, adult visual disorders impose a substantial economic burden on the United States,” said David Rein, Ph.D., RTI International´s lead author on the paper. “Because the incidence of visual disorders increases with age the economic burden will likely rise in the future as the U.S. population ages.”

The researchers found that of the $35 billion in economic costs associated with adult visual disorders, more than $16 billion are associated with direct medical costs, $11 billion result from nursing home care and government programs for the blind, and $8 billion stem from lost wages.

“These findings validate what many eye care providers have suspected for some time,” said Jinan Saaddine, M.D., an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The costs associated with visual disorders have a significant economic burden on both patients and government programs.”

The researchers analyzed data from more than 2.5 million privately insured patients 40 to 64 years of age as well as records from a representative sample of almost 170,000 Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 or older. “Public health efforts to screen for and treat currently undiagnosed disease may increase direct medical care costs, but if effective, they also will improve visual outcomes and potentially reduce productivity losses and nursing home placements associated with visual impairment and blindness,” Rein said.

MEDICA.de; Source: RTI International